U.S. Surgeon General declares epidemic of loneliness

WASHINGTON, D.C. — United States Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says the country is in the midst of a loneliness epidemic.


Murthy says it was a problem before the COVID-19 pandemic with about half of the adults in the country reporting feeling lonely.

He laid out a new plan Tuesday of the framework for a national strategy to “advance social connection.”

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“What you’re arriving at is really a recipe for loneliness and isolation,” Murthy said in a statement. “So what we have to do right now is very intentionally rebuild the infrastructure for connection in our individual lives, as well as in our communities.”

Murthy says isolation and loneliness are linked to sleep problems, inflammation, immune changes, pain, depression, and anxiety.

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The recommendations call on governments, businesses, and community groups to increase social connection, in some cases, pushing for more parks and libraries, allowing paid family leave, and providing more public transportation options.

“We’re seeing a lot of people just talking about being burned out, tired,” Dr. Nadine Kaslow of the Emory School of Medicine said. “They talk a lot about having sleep problems.”

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According to the latest data from the National Institute of Mental Health, more than one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness. That’s nearly 58-million people.

“I think, really for people’s mental health to be good, we need more of a sense of family and community and coming together,” Dr. Kaslow said.

Many cities and towns are also pushing for more funding to help with mental health, but such a national strategy has never been put in place.

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