The Public Health Crisis of Loneliness


A 2019 study conducted by CIGNA and which surveyed 10,000 adults found that 3 out of 5 Americans are lonely. Already more Americans struggle with loneliness than other major public health crises like smoking, diabetes, and obesity. And that was before a major global pandemic forced us into social-distancing and increased isolation, which has kept many of us away from family, friends, and loved ones as the country continues to try to curb the spread of COVID-19. While loneliness is a more intangible health issue, the effects are major. Some studies have shown that the health impacts that loneliness has on our lifespans is equal to smoking fifteen cigarettes a day, and loneliness increases the rate of early death by 26 percent.

The 21st speaks to experts on mental health and loneliness to discuss how lonliness has gotten worse during the pandemic and dealing with its effects. 


Julianne Holt-Lunstad, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University

Dr. Carla Perissinotto, associate professor or medicine and Associate Chief for Geriatrics Clinical Programs at the University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Ramona James, Director of the Master's Program in counseling and psychotherapy at The Institute for Clinical Social Work in Chicago


Prepared for web by Zainab Qureshi

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