How will AI impact loneliness in the US?

AI-powered mental health services are being deployed to help with “significant loneliness”.

Together with

The Future. As an antidote to pandemic-driven loneliness, AI-powered mental health services are being deployed to help the estimated 44 million Americans experiencing “significant loneliness” today. While chatbots might offer immediate relief, they could actually increase loneliness long-term, closing people off from the relationships and conversations they need. 

The pros
While there aren’t enough mental health professionals to support every lonely person in the US, there is the ability to scale AI and offer it 24/7.

  • AI can serve three in four rural counties that lack the funds to expand access to mental health care.
  • AI companions can make small talk and help with fall detection for the 77% of Americans who want to age at home.
  • AI pets can benefit those who can’t afford to take care of a real furry friend.

The cons
On top of little regulatory approval, ad-driven digital surveillance could make people less inclined to share personal details with chatbots.

The bottom line
The jury is still out on the efficacy of AI-driven mental health services. We may have to go through a lot of trial and error before ruling if they’re a safe alternative to human care.

Kait Cunniff

Kait is a Chicago-raised, LA-based writer and NYU film grad. She created an anthology TV series for Refinery29 and worked as a development executive for John Wells Productions, Jon M. Chu, and Paramount Pictures. Her favorite color is orange.


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