“See all the lonely people, where do they come from” Eleanor Rigby - Beatles Rigby

Recently, The Surgeon General indicated that The United States has an epidemic of “Loneliness and Isolation.”  Dr. Vivek H. Murthy shared that research indicates about one-in-two adults in America reported experiencing loneliness, and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic cut off so many people from friends, loved ones, and support systems. He shared that the mortality impact of being socially disconnected is similar to that caused by smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.

Here in our practice, we see the consequences of our evolving society that lacks social connection. Students feel it in their schools, coming to us filled with anxiety and feeling “depressed.” Adults feel this disconnect in their workplaces and social structure, and increasingly, their families. What scares me even more though is the look of intense sadness when I ask about true, meaningful friendships. This ranges from the adolescents thru the older adults. Do we truly have a mental crisis in our country or is it a lack of connection?   

The report indicates, “Social connection significantly improves the health and well-being of all individuals. Social connection reduces the risk of premature mortality. It can predict better physical and mental health outcomes and ease stress. Higher levels of connection can influence health related behaviors. Educational and economic achievement are even impacted by connection. Social connection is vital to community health and success Socially connected communities enjoy better population-level health.”

Connection can be scary, and we are made for connection. Yes, there are risks of rejection, judgement, betrayal. And yet, without meaningful connection, we sink deeper and deeper into despair and depression.

 Dr. Murthy challenges us in his report to take the risks to connect. He presents a “5 actions for 5 Days”, where we commit to connect to one different person each day, expressing gratitude, support, or ask for help. Then, take a personal inventory of the experience and see how you feel. There is a deeper explanation and a worksheet in the link attached to this article. I hope that you will take a look at it and take a risk to meaningfully connect with another human.

Click here to learn more.