Loneliness is now considered a public health crisis that affects more than 30% of people living in the United States. People ages 18-24 report the highest rate of loneliness, with older adults and veterans reporting loneliness rates that closely follow.
The negative impact of loneliness on one’s health is comparable to smoking fifteen cigarettes per day. In addition to premature death, loneliness can result in cancer, gastrointestinal issues, a decreased immune system, and heart disease.
As opposed to obesity or smoking, which can be seen, loneliness is particularly dangerous because it often goes unseen.
Thankfully, there is hope for those who struggle with loneliness. Dr. Jeremy Nobel at Harvard Medical School founded The UnLonely Project, which uses the creative arts to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with loneliness. Creative activities such as gardening, visual art, writing, music, and culinary art can combat loneliness through fostering connection and healing.
In this video, Dr. Nobel explains the mission of The UnLonely Project and the power of connectedness.
Although today’s society promotes social media as a means for connection, research indicates that it actually generates feelings of isolation and loneliness. Face-to-face interactions, such as those encouraged by The UnLonely Project, allow people to engage and share with others in real time.
Written by: Mary Anne Short