who declares loneliness global public health concern; can loneliness kill you
The World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN), has declared loneliness a global public health threat, with its effects equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The WHO has also launched several initiatives to tackle the health threatening issue.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, said, “High rates of social isolation and loneliness have serious consequences for health and well-being. People without enough strong social connections are at higher risk of stroke, anxiety, dementia, depression, suicide and more.”
What is loneliness?
Loneliness is the mental or emotional discomfort that people experience from being alone. It causes emotional unease or distress because you do not have social connections. It is often described as social pain.
Loneliness is often caused by lifestyle changes, mental health conditions, poor self-esteem, low confidence, personality traits, anxiety and circumstances that include living alone.
Mortality effects of loneliness equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day
The mortality effects of loneliness is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. According to the WHO, the absence of social connection can also lead to early death. The feeling of loneliness poses an equivalent, or even greater, risk of early death.
Loneliness can also impact physical and mental health. The feeling of loneliness is also directly linked to anxiety and depression, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by 30 per cent.
The United States surgeon general, Dr Vivek Murthy, said, “These issues don’t affect one country. Loneliness is an underappreciated public health threat.”
WHO launches commission to address concern
WHO has launched an international commission to address the issue of loneliness. The commission is led by Dr Vivek Murthy, the African Union youth envoy, Chido Mpemba, and 11 advocates and government ministers, including Ayuko Kato, the minister in charge of measures for loneliness and isolation in Japan.
The team will work to address the health risks associated with social isolation and loneliness. The team will find effective solutions to the issue of loneliness.
Murthy said, “Given the profound health and societal consequences of loneliness, we have an obligation to make the same investments in rebuilding the social fabric of society that we have made in addressing other global health concerns, such as tobacco use, obesity, and the addiction crisis.”