REPORT: Surgeon general: Time to fix problem of loneliness in US

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U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is introducing a new framework to address loneliness in the United States this week, writing in a new op-ed that social connections must be a “top public health priority” in the country.

“As it has built for decades, the epidemic of loneliness and isolation has fueled other problems that are killing us and threaten to rip our country apart,” Murthy wrote in a New York Times op-ed.

Murthy wrote that about one in every two Americans is experiencing loneliness at any given time, noting that being socially disconnected can increase the risk of anxiety and depression. Besides mental health concerns, the surgeon general wrote that loneliness can also increase the risk of heart disease, dementia and stroke and also said that the risk of a premature death due to loneliness is even comparable to the risk when smoking daily.

“Given these extraordinary costs, rebuilding social connection must be a top public health priority for our nation,” Murthy wrote.

“It will require reorienting ourselves, our communities, and our institutions to prioritize human connection and healthy relationships. The good news is we know how to do this,” he continued.

Murthy also shared details on his own struggle with loneliness, noting that his family to help him get through it.

“During one of my lowest lows, the people in my life patched me up with their acts of love and connection. It is still a work in progress, but years later, in my second tenure in public service, I am making a much bigger effort to build and maintain my relationships,” he wrote. “I am a better father, husband, friend and surgeon general as a result.”

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