"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Surgeon General warns of epidemic of “loneliness and isolation”

May 2, 2023 – The United States is facing a public health crisis characterised by loneliness, isolation and lack of social contact, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, said Tuesday in a Appraise.

“In recent years, about one in two adults in America reported experiencing loneliness,” Murthy says within the alert. “And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic cut so many of us off from friends, loved ones and support systems.”

A scarcity of social contact increases the danger of premature death by over 60%, Murthy said in a press release. “Put simply, this social isolation increases the risk of premature death to the same level as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.”

Lack of social contact increases the danger of heart disease, stroke, anxiety, depression and dementia, the report says. Loneliness can increase the danger of early death by 26% and social isolation by 29%, says a meta-analysis cited within the advice. Loneliness also contributes to motivations for self-harm.

“Given the profound consequences of loneliness and isolation, we have an opportunity and an obligation to invest the same efforts in strengthening social connections that we have invested in combating tobacco use, obesity and the addiction crisis,” Murthy said.

The advice calls for higher education about social bonding and health, and suggests changes corresponding to creating parks and libraries that strengthen bonding, changing policies on family vacations and accessible public transportation, and research to deal with the issue.

CNN According to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the advice is an element of the Biden administration's efforts to deal with mental health.

“People often mistakenly assume that disclosing painful truths or emotions to someone they trust will be off-putting or stressful. Usually, the opposite is true,” said Justin Baker, clinical director of the Suicide and Trauma Reduction Initiative (STRIVE), abc news.

“Instead of feeling like a burden, a shared struggle usually brings people together and strengthens the existing relationship,” Baker said.

If you're having suicidal thoughts, affected by substance abuse, or are experiencing other mental health crises, call or text 988. Trained crisis counselors can be found to allow you to 24 hours a day, seven days per week, freed from charge.