Loneliness could soon become an epidemic, WHO declares.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially recognized 'loneliness' as a pressing global public health issue, and has cautioned that it has the potential to escalate into a worldwide epidemic with serious ramifications such as dementia, heart disease, stroke, and premature deaths.
On Thursday, November 16, 2023, the public health agency disclosed the establishment of an international commission dedicated to addressing the "global public health concern" of loneliness and social isolation. The Commission on Social Connection is scheduled to operate for three years, aiming to actively develop global policies that promote the integration of high-risk and isolated individuals into the communities where they reside.
The World Health Organization (WHO) characterised loneliness as a significant global health hazard, with the U.S. surgeon general, noting that its impact on mortality is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
“Anyone, anywhere, can be lonely or socially isolated, across all ages and regions, loneliness and social isolation have serious impacts on our physical and mental health, and the well-being of our communities and society,” WHO wrote on its website.
There is a growing recognition of the significance of this issue. Loneliness, often underestimated, is not just an individual emotional state; it represents a noteworthy public health concern.
Consistent research has established a correlation between loneliness and various health issues, such as a heightened risk of heart disease, depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.