Loneliness as a public health emergency: Why it’s a crisis that worries everyone from WHO to Silicon Valley

The measure is in line with similar actions taken by Japan and the United Kingdom, which have created loneliness ministries in response to the growing problem, as well as appointing the first loneliness ambassador in New York (illustrating image Infobae)
The measure is in line with similar actions taken by Japan and the United Kingdom, which have created loneliness ministries in response to the growing problem, as well as appointing the first loneliness ambassador in New York (illustrating image Infobae)

Officials in the US county of San Mateo in California, which includes part of Silicon Valley, said Loneliness as its citizens public health emergency, The city is one of the richest cities in the United States, as it is home to the headquarters of many technology giants such as Facebook, YouTube, and Electronic Arts. However, it was the first county to make such a declaration.

This measure links them with the governments of Japan And this United Kingdomthat they created Ministry of Solitude and status of New York which appointed its first loneliness ambassador to address a problem that, according to experts, is growing at an alarming rate and threatening physical and mental health. The resolution included a commitment to help citizens connect and combat what experts have called the US pandemic Loneliness and isolation.

In this context, doctor in psychology Flavio Calvo (MN 66869), teacher, workshop leader and author, explained infobae: “The feeling of loneliness is something that many people experience and it leads them, in many cases, to seek psychological help. It is common that they come for counseling because they feel Disappointed Due to difficulty in installation Social bond They are critical and do not have close people with whom they can share their thoughts and feelings. This problem has become even more serious in today’s increasingly individualistic society.”

Loneliness particularly affects older adults, increasing the risk of chronic diseases and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety (illustrative image Infobae)
Loneliness particularly affects older adults, increasing the risk of chronic diseases and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety (illustrative image Infobae)

On the other hand, doctor beno de keyzerThe doctor of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and professor in Public Health, Gender and Health Studies, Masters of Arts and Community at the University of Veracruzana, Mexico, mentions in his article published in the “Gazette” of the said House. High Mexican study that, “Throughout history, loneliness has accompanied humanity to a greater or lesser extent. However, it has long been a social phenomenon that has had an increasing negative impact on individuals. Now, WHO has shed light on this, and it’s great to see. (…) People’s loneliness is not going to be solved by vaccines or medicines; A more complex approach is needed.”

Whereas david canepaThe vice president of the Board of Supervisors, who introduced the legislation in Silicon Valley, told AA nbcnews The rate is higher in San Mateo, pointing to a survey conducted by the county in 2022 (the latest data available), which found that 45% of residents were struggling with loneliness and isolation,

“What we’re trying to do is take people out of their problems and tell them, ‘Hey, look, there are a lot of people who feel like you do. You’re not alone. And from now on, here’s something There are things we can do to support them,” he said.

This step in California has been taken less than a year after Surgeon General Dr. Vivek MurthyThere were warnings about “loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection” even before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, which researchers say has worsened feelings of isolation for many people.

Officials are concerned about the rates of loneliness among teenagers and young people related to the intensive use of social networks and the high-performance environment in Silicon Valley (illustrative image Infobae)
Officials are concerned about the rates of loneliness among teenagers and young people related to the intensive use of social networks and the high-performance environment in Silicon Valley (illustrative image Infobae)

According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus“People who do not have enough stable social relationships are at greater risk of suffering from it,” WHO Director-General. Stroke, anxiety, dementia, depression and suicide“, which is why the supreme international health entity launched Commission on Social Engagement To help deal with the problem.

Canepa said he is also concerned about loneliness among teens and youth in San Mateo, because they often Social Networks, and research has shown that heavy use of social media can increase feelings of loneliness. The second reason is that the high-performance environment of Silicon Valley may arise Tension In teenagers.

On the other hand, “people no longer live close to their loved ones,” he pointed out. nbc jennifer steeleExecutive Director of the Program meals on Wheels Serving part of San Mateo County. “Sometimes, in some cases, people have left their loved ones alive. After retirement, your social circle becomes smaller. “It’s more difficult for people to make friends,” he explained.

Nearly a quarter of the world feels lonely. This was determined by a Meta-Gallup survey conducted in more than 140 countries which found that 24 percent of people ages 15 and older reported feeling very or fairly lonely.

The National Library of Medicine links loneliness to an increased risk of many conditions such as depression, heart disease and dementia (illustrative image Infobae)
The National Library of Medicine links loneliness to an increased risk of many conditions such as depression, heart disease and dementia (illustrative image Infobae)

Meta-Gallup’s Global State of Social Connections report found that people in Africa and Southwest Asia are the loneliest. In countries at least 40% of people like Afghanistan, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Uganda They reported feeling very or very lonely. were the only countries with the least Russia, Germany, Ukraine, Sweden, Norway and FinlandAmong others, where less than 10% of those surveyed said they felt very or fairly lonely. In usa15% reported feeling very or very lonely, 36% said they felt somewhat lonely, and 59% said they did not feel lonely at all.

Concerns about loneliness are not new in the medical community, and research shows that it can have harmful effects on physical and mental health.

Dr. Calvo explained: “Psychological Abraham MaslowDeveloped in his theory, a pyramid of human needs of which is need to belong, This theory shows that people have a hierarchy of needs, and the need to belong and be accepted by others comes right after physiological and safety needs. he is The need for influence is almost as important as the need for food or shelter.,

The need for influence and belonging is almost as important as the need for food or shelter, says Dr. Calvo.
The need for influence and belonging is almost as important as the need for food or shelter, says Dr. Calvo.

And he added: “On the other hand, a lack of solid friendships can have negative consequences on our mental health, chronic loneliness May contribute to the development of mood disorders such as Depression, anxiety and other problems. Additionally, lack of social support may increase the risk of emotional isolation and difficulties in problem solving.

A study published by the National Library of Medicine found that people who suffer from loneliness are more likely to experience Depression, Alcohol abuse, personality disorders and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and cardiovascular disease.

“The older adults They are at higher risk of loneliness and social isolation because they are more likely to face factors such as living alone, losing family or friends, having chronic illnesses and hearing loss. He social isolation was connected to a Nearly 50% increase in dementia risk, And loneliness was associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide,” they add from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Building good friendships enriches life and protects physical and mental health (Credit: Getty)
Building good friendships enriches life and protects physical and mental health (Credit: Getty)

People who suddenly find themselves alone due to the death of a loved one or a dramatic change in their life retirementWhile there may be a higher risk for a variety of physical and mental conditions, people who intentionally participate in activities with others live longer, happier lives, the National Institute on Aging says.

so stay in touch Healthy people are good for physical and mental health. “When we experience meaningful social relationshipsour feeling identity and self-esteem, Feeling part of a group gives us a sense of purpose and allows us to share common values, interests, and experiences. This helps us develop more Self confidence and establishing a solid emotional foundation from which we can discover and achieve our individual potential,” Dr. Calvo explained.

And he added: “The friendship Plays an important role in our emotional and mental lives, lack of friends can lead to feelings of loneliness and emotional difficulties. It makes sense to prioritize building authentic and valuable relationships. Having friends enriches our lives, so it is important to keep in mind that it is not possible to live without friends, but it is important to seek out and nurture these relationships. Psychological and emotional well-being.

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