- The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared loneliness to be a pressing global health threat and launched an international commission to address the problem.1
- The Commission on Social Connection is co-chaired by US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy and African Union Youth Envoy Chido Mpemba and comprises 11 advocates and government ministers.2
- For three years, the Commission 'will help establish social connection as a global health priority' and shape global policy by examining high-risk areas of social isolation.3
- According to its report titled 'Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation,' the WHO states that loneliness is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, dementia, depression, and premature death.4
- In May, Dr Murthy released an advisory warning that the US is facing an epidemic of loneliness, claiming it's as lethal to physical health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.5
- Last month, a 142-country survey found that nearly 1 in 4 adults feel very or fairly lonely. Previous studies have found that over half of children and adolescents feel lonely at least some of the time.6
- Narrative A, as provided by UnHerd. While the health risks of loneliness are real, loneliness isn't a health epidemic or quite the crisis it's cracked up to be. Surveys say young people are the loneliest which has always been the case and doesn't necessarily mean people are getting lonelier. There's insufficient evidence to show a steady trend in loneliness around the world. More solid sociological evidence is needed.
- Narrative B, as provided by WHO. Though we live in the most digitally connected age in the history of civilization, most adults experience loneliness daily due to diminishing real-life social connections. Social isolation and loneliness are important yet neglected determinants of health. Since being socially disconnected is bad for our physical, emotional, and financial health, reversing course needs a strong global effort and this initiative is an important first step.