May 17, 2024

Connecticut To Study Ways To Fight Loneliness, Isolation

As the U.S. Surgeon General in 2023 declared loneliness and isolation an epidemic in the United States with directly negative impacts on public health, Connecticut this year passed legislation to study the issue and find ways to help those struggling.

Senate Bill 1, flagship legislation passed this year to benefit health care, includes a provision to study the health impacts of isolation and loneliness and recommend solutions to legislators for future bills. This bodes well to counter a growing problem.

“Loneliness is a major and sometimes invisible issue in our communities,” said State Senator Saud Anwar, Senate Chair of the Public Health Committee. “Focusing on how we can fight back against it can provide strong benefits for public health.”

According to Dr. Vivek Murthy, the Surgeon General, even before the pandemic’s fracturing effects, half of all adults in the United States reported feeling loneliness – and that loneliness correlates with increased risk of heart disease, stroke and depression.

This issue is compounded by the issue that curing loneliness isn’t as simple as going outside and saying hello to people. Social connection requires facets including structure, function and quality – individuals need multiple friends who they can rely on and receive positive feedback from. When only 39% of adults consider themselves connected to others, the potential downsides and struggles this could hold are concerning – especially when less than 20% of people who experience these conditions know it’s a major problem, one that can be fixed.

“Loneliness doesn’t discriminate – from bullied children to isolated seniors, it can have serious impacts on mental and physical health,” said State Senator Ceci Maher. “I’m encouraged to know our state is grappling with this complex issue to find solutions.”

Potential solutions that could aid people experiencing loneliness include new programs in communities connecting people for common purposes, as well as media campaigns to let people know they’re not alone.

Posted by Joe O’Leary