Loneliness doesn’t discriminate when it comes to race, gender, age, and certainly not or nationality. That’s why we can take a cue from our neighbors across the pond.
The “Jo Cox Commission” recently handed out “happy to chat” badges on the subway to start a national conversation about loneliness.
Before her life was cut short, MP Jo Cox had gathered a lot of evidence about the impact of isolation on those who live in the UK. She had reached out to MP Seema Kennedy who had spoken out passionately in the past about the same issue. Kennedy told The Guardian, “Jo wanted to achieve something practical. So this is all about trying to achieve change that is concrete – not just about sitting around and talking.”
Kennedy is now taking things forward with fellow Labour MP Rachel Reeves, a close friend of Cox.
“The whole point of the campaign is saying: this is a problem on every street, in every neighbourhood, in every family, and if we all took action we could do a lot to combat loneliness and social isolation,” said Reeves.
The commission is making special efforts to help vulnerable groups such as new mothers, people with disabilities, the elderly, refugees, and men under 45, who are four times more likely to take their own life than women.
Evidence shows that:
-One fifth of the population said they are always or often lonely.
-200,000 people hadn’t had a conversation with friends or family for a month.
-One quarter of people with a disability felt lonely on a typical day.
-A quarter of parents have reported feeling often or always lonely.
“Being lonely is a physical thing,” said Kennedy. “There is a lot of research about how it can manifest in physical symptoms, such as falls, hypertension, increased risk of heart disease, depression, drinking.”
Loneliness knows no bounds. A recent study at the University of Georgia concluded that chronic depression in the United States is “a significant public health issue,” one that “contributes to a cycle of illness and health-care utilization.”
Wherever you live, loneliness is no doubt affecting someone in your life. Be it a friend or relative, a neighbor, or a complete stranger. A small conversation could make a big difference in their quality of life. Watch the video to see how loneliness affects us all.