COVID-19 has created an environment of increased levels of loneliness and social isolation. According to the National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation, prior to the pandemic approximately 20% of adults said they always or often felt lonely or socially isolated. Reporting from August of 2020 demonstrated the percentage in adults to have increased to 28% loneliness and 41% socially isolated. There are a number of associated concerns with social isolation including behavioral and physical health, e.g. increased anxiety and depression, risk of dementia and heart disease.
There are risk factors that increase loneliness as well as factors that can decrease loneliness and those that have little to no effect. Those that decrease loneliness include increased age, marriage, hobbies, good night’s sleep, and social network size. Risk factors for increased loneliness include social isolation, LGBTQ status, mental illness diagnosis, lower income, and urban environment. Education, race/ethnicity, and gender are reported to have little or no effect on loneliness.
How to help: key strategies to help with loneliness and social isolation include talking with family and friends regularly; maintain a health lifestyle with diet, exercise and sleep; spend as much time outdoors as possible for sunlight, fresh air and nature; get help and reach out when needed.
If you or someone you know are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text line by texting TALK to 741741.