Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Mental Health, Therapy, and Well-being of Empty-Nest Youth | Teen Ink

Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Mental Health, Therapy, and Well-being of Empty-Nest Youth

September 12, 2023
By Mandytao BRONZE, Toronto, Ontario
Mandytao BRONZE, Toronto, Ontario
1 article 0 photos 0 comments


The "empty-nest youth" phenomenon comprises individuals aged 20-35 who live independently, are away from familial ties, have relatively secure employment, or pursue higher education. Exceeding 58 million in China, their demographic is confronted with distinctive stressors: solitude, financial concerns, absence of social affiliations, and heightened expectations, among several others, as they traverse the realm of independent adulthood without the aid of familial structure (Yu, 2018). Additionally, empty-nest youth represents a demographic facing complex psychological predicaments that surpass initial expectations, thus garnering societal and scholarly attention. In this milieu, the ascendancy of artificial intelligence (AI) has engendered a paradigm shift in mental health, therapy, and well-being. AI-powered tools and applications offer the possibility of democratizing tailored mental health care, granting individuals universal access to aid and resources. Furthermore, AI's capacity to expedite diagnostics and treatment by examining extensive data and uncovering latent patterns enhances the efficacy of mental health professionals.

This paper uses the method of literature review to analyze the psychological status of empty-nest youth as well as the different possibilities of AI. By reviewing literature pieces, the potential of AI used in supporting mental health and well-being of empty-nest youths are extremely high. This exposition endeavors to identify a solution through AI to ameliorate the psychological well-being of emotionally distressed empty-nest youths, underscoring the need for a symbiotic rapport with AI technologies while upholding the fundamental role of human connectivity and self-care. 

Keywords: Empty-nest youth, Artificial intelligence (AI), Mental health, Therapy, Well-being 


Due to the unbalanced social and economic development, facing the attraction of employment opportunities and wages in more developed cities, young adults are forced to leave parental abodes in order to pursue better development opportunities. Meanwhile, real problems such as high housing prices, high consumption, work intensity, commuting pressure, and weak social relationships cause them have to face "empty-nest", resulting in a series of problems, such as problems in mental health and well-being. Understanding these individuals' specific needs and experiences is crucial in developing effective mental health interventions and support networks. While compared with youths who are living with families or roommates, young people living alone have better control over their finances and make independent decisions regarding their careers, expenses, and investment, yet, the shadow of isolation looms prominently. Living in isolation can precipitate sentiments of estrangement and truncated social networks, culminating in a deleterious psychological toll, especially if they are not actively seeking social activities (Wei, 2022). According to Maslow's theory, individuals have a hierarchy of needs that they seek to fulfill sequentially. These needs include physiological needs (such as breathing, food, water, and shelter), safety and security needs (such as employment and property), love and belonging needs (such as friendship, intimacy, and sense of connection), self-esteem needs (such as confidence, achievement), and self-actualization needs (such as morality, creativity) (Mcleod, 2023). Empty-nest youths fulfill their physiological requisites and security concerns after exiting parental abodes. The reason for empty-nest youths to leave their parents is to seek employment or pursue higher education. Thus, in this case, empty-nest youths should be able to earn income and provide themselves with physiological and security needs—consequently, their focus pivots toward the yearning for love and a sense of belonging. An insubstantial social support framework exacerbates stress and compromises overall well-being. Herein, interventions necessitate a strategic orientation towards augmenting social integration and nurturing substantive connections tailored to this cohort's exigencies.

The emergence of AI has engendered a transformative vista within mental health support. AI-driven chatbots, meticulously designed to extend emotional succor and coping strategies for anxiety, stress, and depression, are rapidly gaining traction. These AI chatbots function like virtual therapists by providing immediate responses to commonplace queries, furnishing guidance, and dispensing technical assistance, providing a haven for self-expression, attentive listening, and informed guidance. The potential interactions between AI chatbots and AI watches provide an even more efficacious support mechanism for empty-nest youths. MediBOT for instance, developed a sustainable healthcare system that accomplished this (Sivaraj et al, 2021). AI-infused watches continuously monitor heart rate, emotional fluctuations, and psychological well-being. AI chatbots, leveraging user data and behavioral patterns, proffer personalized recommendations, be it product suggestions aligned with individual preferences or informed by prior interactions. In a study exploring the potential of using ChatGPT as a therapist assistant illustrates that ChatGPT is capable of holding positive conversations, actively listening, and providing validation and potential coping strategies without veering off to explicit medical advice (Eshghie et al., 2023). These chatbots serve as virtual therapists, providing individuals a safe space to vent, feel heard, and receive guidance. Furthermore, the advent of AI companions provides company and emotional support to those feeling isolated or lonely. To achive this, natural language processing (NLP) is central to this efficacy, the crux enabling chatbots to discern and generate responses reminiscent of human exchanges. Various NLP techniques have been studied and integrated into chatbot algorithms to improve language understanding capabilities, such as named entity recognition, sentiment analysis, and part-of-speech tagging (Schoene et al., 2022). Innovations such as chatbots provide a private space for users to express their feelings and concerns without fear of judgment or embarrassment, increasing the accessibility of care for individuals who may be hesitant to seek help (Pham et al., 2022). As a problem many empty-nest youths face, AI-powered chatbots can efficiently address the fear of judgment and hesitation to seek help. Furthermore, they expedite access to immediate support, steering individuals through relaxation techniques and mindfulness exercises that mitigate mental turbulence. We can bridge the gap between individuals in need and the aid they seek by harnessing AI in mental health care, promoting a more inclusive and supportive environment for mental well-being. Furthermore, AI companions can help individuals monitor and analyze their mental health over time, providing valuable insights and individualized recommendations for self-improvement. Since most empty-nest youths are preoccupied with seeking employment, education, and involvement, this ongoing support can empower individuals to take an active role in their mental well-being and make educated decisions about their care. Furthermore, the application of AI in mental health treatment can assist in relieving the strain on healthcare workers by allowing them to concentrate their time and expertise on more challenging cases. The infusion of AI companions into mental health care embodies the potential to revolutionize the paradigms of addressing mental health challenges, ushering accessible, personalized, and timely succor to those most in need.

AI's potential extends beyond therapeutic applications, serving to foster communities and strengthen social bonds among those feeling isolated or emotionally barren. The social tapestry of humanity is intricately threaded with interpersonal connections, essential for our collective progression (Karim et al., 2020). Central to the Self-Determination Theory is the innate drive for social connectivity, a cornerstone of human progress (Deci & Ryan, 1985). As such, social support, defined as “support available to an individual through social ties to other individuals, groups, and the broader community,” stands as a crucial buffer against stress, anxiety, and depression (Lin et al., 1979). Research indicates that robust and functional social networks deter risky behaviors, minimize negative perceptions, and enhance adherence to treatments. AI-powered algorithms can design social interaction structures, pairing like-minded individuals based on shared interests, and thereby fostering virtual support environments that promote deep connections. Moreover, AI's influence permeates social media, shaping timely responses and informative content. For instance, BiAffect is an app that employs machine learning algorithms, using keyboard metadata like typing dynamics variability, errors, and pauses in user messaging to forecast manic and depressive episodes in those with bipolar disorder (Pham et al., 2022). Through such platforms, users can fortuitously connect with peers, weaving a network of support that diminishes feelings of isolation. These digital refuges provide an environment where individuals can bond with others facing similar challenges or harboring aligned goals. Bolstered by AI, these digital spaces also promote personal growth by offering myriad educational tools and resources. Users can access educational content, participate in online courses, and join interactive workshops, thereby fostering a sense of achievement and empowerment. These platforms also promote behaviors beneficial for well-being, including goal setting, habit formation, and reminders for self-care activities. Additionally, they present immersive experiences and dialogues that enhance mental wellness. AI's role in this realm facilitates the formation of virtual communities bound by mutual interests, providing individuals with a sense of belonging and an outlet for self-expression. Within these platforms, individuals can pursue personal growth by developing new skills and nurturing emerging talents. 

However, amidst the euphoria of AI's potential, circumspection is imperative regarding its undue dependency as a fount of emotional succor. While AI-driven chatbots and companions provide a simulacrum of connection and solace, they ought not to supplant genuine human communion. The echelons of human empathy and understanding elude algorithmic replication. Moreover, excessive reliance on AI for emotional bolstering jeopardizes cultivating vital coping mechanisms and resilience. The incipient stage of AI application within clinical settings lacks standardization and cohesive benchmarks, engendering challenges in risk evaluation and management during technological maturation (Pham et al., 2022). The inertia exhibited by certain psychiatrists, valuing person-to-person interactions, underscores a protracted diffusion of innovation within the mental health community. Concomitantly, the rapid proliferation of mental health applications exacerbates the complexity of risk assessment, predisposing potential harms to manifest prior to preemptive mitigation.

In summation, while AI-powered technologies orchestrate a profound metamorphosis in emotional support and connectivity, equilibrium must be preserved between virtual interactions and authentic human bonds. These platforms undeniably, engender a sense of kinship and wellsprings of self-improvement. Alongside these salutary advancements, it is crucial to recognize the plausible adverse repercussions on the psychological health of emerging adults, poised at a pivotal juncture of their personal growth. Minimizing potential harm necessitates the prudent cultivation of judicious digital engagement and the awareness of AI's constraints. Most importantly, they must never eclipse the genuine human resonance of empathy and compassion. Succumbing to an unwarranted dependence on AI for emotional support jeopardizes the acquisition of crucial coping strategies and grit. Amid the navigational contours of the digital age, an indelible imprint of human connection on emotional well-being ought to be steadfastly upheld. 

The author's comments:

As the population of empty-nest youths expand, the psychological problems of this group are attracting the attention of society and scholars. Through qualitative interview research, it was found that the psychological conditions of "empty nest youth" are characterized by depression, stress, a strong sense of loneliness, a lack of security, and a strong sense of loss. However, many of them don't have the opportunity to get psychologist or treatment. In this case, with the great achievements in our artificial intelligence, it can largely support this population.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.