Tuesday, January 23, 2018

UK's Minister for Loneliness

I had imagined a character from a dystopian novel, but Britain has created a “minister for loneliness” to tackle modern public health problems associated with social isolation. 

The government said Wednesday it had appointed Tracey Crouch after research showed as many as one in ten people felt lonely “always or often” and that very many elderly people hadn’t spoken to a friend or relative in the past month. 

Crouch, whose official title is Minister for Sport and Civil Society, is to devise a national strategy to tackle isolation across all ages, and find ways of measuring alienation in official statistics. 

"We know that there is a real impact of social isolation and loneliness on people, on their physical and mental well-being but also on other aspects in society and we want to tackle this challenge”, Crouch said. 

According to the British Red Cross, more than nine million people say they are always or often lonely, out of a population of 65.6 million. 

In the US of A, approximately 42.6 million adults aged over 45 reported suffering from chronic loneliness in a major 2010 study by the AARP. 

The most recent American census data shows more than a quarter of the population lives alone, more than half of the population is unmarried and, since the previous census, marriage rates and the number of children per household have declined, the American Psychological Association heard last year. 

Julianne Holt-Lunstad, professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, told the organization that research indicated social isolation and living alone had “a significant and equal effect on the risk of premature death… one that was equal to or exceeded the effect of other well-accepted risk factors such as obesity”. 

Announcing Crouch’s appointment as “new ministerial lead for loneliness”, British Prime Minister Theresa May said: "I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones, people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with”. 

The role was the main recommendation in a 2017 report commissioned in memory of Jo Cox, a lawmaker and mother of two who was murdered in the street in 2016 by a neo-Nazi militant. 

"Jo Cox recognized the scale of loneliness across the country and dedicated herself to doing all she could to help those affected”, May said.

This really makes sense! Check out this video:

I was up at 4:00 AM local time to catch the match between Liverpool and Swansea City. And I had to endure watching the Reds lose to EPL's bottom club by one goal. Double sigh!

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