Surgeon General: Lack of Social Connection Has Profound Impacts on Mental and Physical Health

a woman looks forlornly out of a window

In an article in the New York Times, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy expressed concern that “Americans have become increasingly lonely and isolated, and this lack of social connection is having profound effects on our mental and physical health.”

The Washington Post reported that “loneliness presents a profound public health threat akin to smoking and obesity.”

Murthy issued an advisory on May 2 that encouraged “Americans to spend more time with each other in an increasingly divided and digital society.” He said “half of U.S. adults experience loneliness, which has consequences for mental and physical health, including a greater risk of depression, anxiety – and perhaps more surprisingly, heart disease, stroke and dementia.” The advisory “calls for a collective effort to ‘mend the social fabric of our nation,’ including teaching children how to build healthy relationships; talking more to relatives, friends and co-workers; and spending less time online and on social media if it comes at the expense of in-person interactions.”

Top Three Causes of Loneliness

  • Hearing loss
  • Vision loss
  • Death of a spouse