CT Group Aims to Address Growing Trend of Loneliness
Thursday, June 29, 2023
A Connecticut group is working to reduce the growing trend of loneliness.
The Connecticut Collaborative to End Loneliness, a part of For All Ages, is a group of public and private organizations aimed at reducing loneliness and isolation across the state.
A 2021 study found 24% of Connecticut's senior population is widowed, which can contribute to loneliness. This trend was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, and has only gotten worse.
Deb Bibbins, founder and CEO of For All Ages, described how loneliness can set in.
"It really has to do with someone not having a sense of belonging," Bibbins explained. "Depending upon your age, and what your daily life is all about. For someone in high school, for instance, it may be that you feel you're not being accepted into a friend group."
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., plans to introduce legislation to address the current loneliness epidemic. Murphy noted social media has a particular responsibility for creating loneliness, adding online comments are slowly replacing in-person experiences.
A 2023 study in Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine found increased social media use is related to higher levels of loneliness.
Experts are also worried about the physical and mental risks associated with loneliness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds loneliness is linked to increased risks for heart disease and stroke, depression and anxiety, dementia and earlier death.
Luis Perez, president and CEO of Mental Health Connecticut, said increasing knowledge about loneliness can help people better deal with it.
"I think that knowledge is power, and I think the more people learn about not just what can be done, but learning about themselves," Perez noted. "Understanding what are the symptoms that you may be experiencing, so that you can reach out for help and accept help."
He added as mental health slowly becomes destigmatized, people are taking action and recognizing signs of mental health issues. Perez emphasized anyone experiencing severe loneliness should seek help either from a mental health clinician or by getting out of the house more through joining clubs and local organizations.
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