Awareness and support needed to combat loneliness and social isolation, Surgeon General says

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Wednesday, June 12, 2024
Loneliness and social isolation considered public health issues
Social isolation and loneliness are widespread problems in the U.S., posing a serious threat to our mental and physical health. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy offers ways to promote social connection.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Surgeon General and the Center for Disease Control want Americans to be aware of the impact of loneliness and isolation.

Loneliness and social isolation have reached "crisis levels" in the country; made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of family, friends, and loved ones to the disease or physical distancing, the U.S. Surgeon General says.

Dr. Vivek Murthy adds that loneliness has officially become an epidemic.

According to the CDC, loneliness has been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and even suicide. Additionally, the health impact of social isolation and loneliness can be compared to smoking up to 15 cigarettes in a day.

Recent research suggests that about 1 in 2 adults in America reported feelings of loneliness in recent years.

"It's even greater than that with obesity. So we have to look at loneliness and isolation as public health issues and ones that thankfully we can do something about," Murthy told Eyewitness News.

To fight loneliness, experts suggest the following:

  • Start a conversation with someone experiencing social isolation or loneliness
  • Connect with others on social media
  • Volunteer in the community
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Seek professional help

"When it comes to loneliness, it's really the quality of connections that matters," Murthy added. "Whether you're around a couple of people or a couple hundred of people. But are you able to have meaningful conversations around those people around you? Do you feel like they know you? Do you know them? Do you feel like you can be honest and vulnerable around them? That's what really matters."

Loneliness Awareness is being reported as part of a yearlong reporting initiative with ABC-Owned Television Stations and ABC News Medical Unit called Mental State: Epidemic of Loneliness.

In the fall of 2023, ABC11 talked exclusively with Dr. Murthy about loneliness during his stop at Duke University while on his national tour called, 'We Are Made to Connect.'

In an exclusive interview with ABC11 during a stop at Duke University, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy spoke about the perils of loneliness and social media use.

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