Government needs to tackle the public health concern of loneliness

Local Independent Councillor, Michael O’Brien, has said that Government needs to tackle the major public health problem that is loneliness.

“Loneliness is a growing global epidemic, affecting almost one in ten people in Ireland. Many studies have identified it as a key health hazard and one of the biggest global challenges of the twenty first century.

“Over the past couple of decades, studies have found that people who enjoy better social relationships and a stronger sense of social connection tend to be less prone to depression, recover quicker from depressive episodes and are less likely to relapse. Besides depression, social connection also promotes better physical health outcomes too. Research supports this observation across many conditions, including heart disease, dementia, and strokes,” Cllr. O’Brien remarked.

The Independent Councillor noted that loneliness had no age boundaries, effecting both young and old persons alike.

“Many people might think that loneliness is primarily an issue for older people, but much of the research that has been carried out in this area shows that loneliness has no age boundaries with just as many younger people suffering as older people.

“We have seen massive changes in the way we live our lives over the past couple of decades. We are more connected from a technological perspective, but increasingly disconnected socially.

“We need to encourage and promote more social activity in society, and the Government has a key role to play in ensuring that this happens. While loneliness is an issue right across Ireland and the world, I think that rural Ireland faces a particular battle with isolation and loneliness,” the Councillor continued.

The Moate based Councillor called on the Government to create a relevant department with sole responsibility for this public health issue.

“I think that one Government department should have the responsibility to help tackle loneliness and isolation, maybe a Minister of State, with responsibility in this area too. It requires a bigger focus that it’s currently getting, because a more socially connected society is a better, healthier and more prosperous society,” Cllr. O’Brien concluded.

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