Trend: Governments Ramp Up the War on Loneliness  

Week of May 10th, 2023

New Surgeon General Advisory raises alarm about the devastating impact of the epidemic of loneliness and isolation in the United States US Dept. of Health and Human Services
The official government announcement about the Surgeon General’s call for action to address the loneliness-fueled health crisis and the new framework for a national strategy to advance social connection, which has never been implemented before in the US. How governments, workplaces, health systems, community organizations and individuals can take action to increase connection across the country and in their lives.  Read his more personal essay in the New York Times: “We Have Become a Lonely Nation. It’s Time to Fix That” 

South Korea is paying lonely young people $500 a month to re-enter society– CNN
More details on this unique policy move. The government estimates that about 338,000 younger Koreans are reclusive lonely young people,” defined as living in a “limited space, in a state of being disconnected from the outside, and having noticeable difficulty in living a normal life…with 40% beginning their isolation in adolescence.”  

Japan was already grappling with isolation and loneliness. The pandemic made it worse– CNN
Across Japan, 1.5 million people have dramatically withdrawn from society. A major factor is the country’s intensely aging society, a situation so dire that the prime minister warned this year that the country was “on the brink of not being able to maintain social functions.” The government is already working to expand loneliness-fighting initiatives, and knows it will have to so much more in the future.  

Dutch supermarket introduces unique slow checkout lane for lonely seniors who want to chat– Upworthy
The simple and very bright idea from Jumbo Supermarkets to bring human connection right to grocery checkout lanes is expanding fast. The Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport has also set up initiatives all across the country, including home visits, hotlines and activity directories for seniors in the neighborhood. 

The Guardian view on loneliness: private pain should be a public priority– The Guardian
The UK publication takes a major stand on how the UK needs to do far more to address loneliness, “because the personal anguish of those who long for meaningful ties has social causesand social and economic costs.” It lauds the country for moves like appointing the first minister of loneliness and its “social prescribing” movement, but with austerity-driven budget slashing, everything from youth centers to swimming pools are being closed down. Major policy moves and structural changes are needed.  

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