A study conducted found that one in 10 people in the U.K. face isolation, a condition that can trigger a range of physical and mental health issues.
“I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones ― people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with,” May said in a statement.
Statistics have shown that more than 9 million adults in the U.K. report feeling often or always lonely. For 3.6 million people aged 65 or older, it found, television is considered the main form of company.
According to Brigham Young University Psychology Professor Julianne Holt Lunstad, the harmful impact of loneliness is more than psychological. Having weak social connections is considered to be as damaging to one’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
“There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality and the magnitude of the risks exceeds that of many leading health indicators,” Lunstad is quoted as saying in the Jo Cox Commission’s on Loneliness, an organization that works to combat social isolation and loneliness.
More than half of all disabled people in the U.K. experience loneliness, with it being more prominent among younger individuals. Eight out of 10 caregivers have also felt lonely or isolated as a result of looking after a loved one, according to the Jo Cox Commission’s report.
The commission is named after Labor Party lawmaker Jo Cox, who was a prominent advocate for addressing the issue of loneliness in Britain before her 2016 shooting death by a right-wing extremist.
As loneliness is universal that comes in different manner, shape and form, it may be beneficial for other countries to take notice of what the U.K. is doing in raising understanding and awareness of loneliness issues if only for the afflicted to know that there are organizations and people out there who support and care for them.