Loneliness: An increasingly recognized health problem
“If there's so many people here then why am I so lonely?,” sings pop rock band OneRepublic in the song Connection, released last year.
Loneliness is a recurring theme in art and pop culture now, and there’s good reason for that, says Michael Stallard, president of Connection Culture Group. “Artists have their finger on the pulse of the culture,” and they recognize loneliness as a significant problem of modern times.
Vivek Murphy, who served as the 19th Surgeon General, agrees the US is in an “emotional crisis.” Speaking at the AHIP Institute & Expo in June, he noted at least 20% of US adults are struggling with loneliness, with the actual numbers likely higher.
This is not just an emotional problem; there are a variety of health effects associated with chronic loneliness. “People who struggle with loneliness actually live shorter lives,” warned Murphy, pointing to increased risks for heart disease, dementia, anxiety and a compromised immune system.
These health issues are harming both practitioners and their patients, affecting all levels of the health care system.