By Mayukh Saha
A shocking study revealed that loneliness can be more dangerous than obesity. We have always known that humans are social animals but it turns out that it is actually crucial for our existence in society. The statistics say it all – loneliness can result in a 50% increase in chances of dying early, which is much lesser than the 30% risk that obesity presents. Yet, somehow, we do not know much about this problem, as it remains hidden in the media. It can be dubbed as another example of why the invisibility of mental issues can result in covering up of it, despite being a potent cause.
There have been many examples as to how isolation can create problems in individuals. In the prisons, when a criminal behaves badly, they are put in solitary confinement as a tactic to discipline them. It has also been seen that when infants are kept away from human contact, they may die due to the lack of it. So, we have both the example of an infant and a hardened criminal – I believe it is enough to say that isolation is a serious issue and it needs to be addressed really fast.
However, it keeps on increasing in this current era. Despite the technological advances that have supposedly connected us better and brought us closer to each other, loneliness seems to have increased further. In the US, many people are slowly feeling isolated, despite having acquaintance and family. About 70% of them believe that their friends and family would be surprised if they came to know that they were actually isolated.
A recent survey done by Granset found out that about 75% of the older population in the UK are suffering from loneliness. Most don’t even talk about it. But National Statistics are bringing out the truth and it is becoming more apparent that Britain is the loneliest country in the entirety of Europe.
In the UK, Loneliness has been called an epidemic and it already costs a lot of money to Europe. About $26 million per year is spent as costs due to sick leaves. Loneliness has been said to be worse for a person, both physically and mentally – people who are lonely suffer worse when they are unwell than people who have companions around them.
Too many shreds of evidence have surfaced over the years that suggest that people who are lonely are going to have a host of health issues that only pushes them towards an early death. And since the current generation is slowing aging, it would have a terrible effect on the state of public health when these individuals grow more vulnerable to different kinds of diseases. So the issues have not only grown significantly in magnitude, but they have also become challenging for the officials as to how this silent killer can be tackled.
A suggestion is to start from early on. Since individuals develop a certain personality as they grow up, it generally means that parents, social environment, and teachers play an active role in developing their social life and their ability to interact with the outside world. Schools should be more vigilant and should actively encourage group activities so that loneliness can be tackled right from the beginning learning phases of a child. It is also necessary for individuals to open up when they are lonely so that they could be treated on that basis. According to experts, it is necessary that when people are treated for loneliness, the social environment and conditions should be factored in to come to a proper conclusion.
Mental health is a serious issue and even though it is not always visible, we should try to understand the implication of this hidden issue. It has been taken quite lightly in the past and now we are moving in a better direction. Let’s hope that the problem of loneliness can be tackled well.