Surgeon General: We have become a lonely nation. It’s time to fix that.
In an article in the New York Times opinion section, Dr. Vivek H Murthy, Surgeon General of the United States, discusses how we’ve become a lonely nation, and how we can fix that.
“At any moment, about one out of every two Americans is experiencing measurable levels of loneliness.This includes introverts and extroverts, rich and poor, and younger and older Americans. Sometimes loneliness is set off by the loss of a loved one or a job, a move to a new city, or health or financial difficulties — or a once-in-a-century pandemic.
Other times, it’s hard to know how it arose but it’s simply there. One thing is clear: Nearly everyone experiences it at some point. But its invisibility is part of what makes it so insidious. We need to acknowledge the loneliness and isolation that millions are experiencing and the grave consequences for our mental health, physical health and collective well-being.
This week, for the first time, I will be proposing a national framework to rebuild social connection and community in America. Loneliness is more than just a bad feeling. When people are socially disconnected, their risk of anxiety and depression increases. So does their risk of heart disease (29 percent), dementia (50 percent), and stroke (32 percent). The increased risk of premature death associated with social disconnection is comparable to smoking daily — and may be even greater than the risk associated with obesity.”