Improving social connections is a public health priority

Washington —Following is a statement by Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association, on the recent advisory from Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, designating loneliness as a public health priority:

“The American Psychological Association supports Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s recommendation to designate social connectedness as a public health priority. Being socially connected to others is a basic human need—crucial to both well-being and survival. We have known for years that loneliness can significantly increase the risk for early death, and the magnitude of that risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators, including smoking and obesity. the covid-19 pandemic has resulted in increased social isolation for many vulnerable populations, including older adults, who are the most vulnerable to the virus, and children, who missed out on important opportunities while schools were closed. People from all walks of life, from educators to public health officials and even the media, need to consider actions that can help promote positive social interactions and healthy relationships to address this problem that affects millions of Americans daily. The surgeon general’s report demonstrates multiple ways that our physical and mental health are intricately interconnected and affected by loneliness, suggesting the need to develop social connection solutions because of their importance to our physical and psychological health.”