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Teaching & Learning

That Matters

Do You Know That We Are Living Through A

Loneliness Epidemic?


Were you aware that the Center for Disease Center (CDC) declared our nation to be in an epidemic state of loneliness and social isolation in May 2023? The World Health Organization and numerous international organizations have called for action to address the public health threat of loneliness and isolation in many parts of the world. There is the growing recognition that social isolation can lead to loneliness in some people, while others can feel lonely without being socially isolated, and both are linked to serious public health concerns.

“The Loneliness Epidemic Persists: A Post-Pandemic Look at the State of Loneliness among U.S. Adults” ( )  is the title of a brief but informative report by The Cigna Group that I recommend for your reading. It is recommended because it tends to challenge our beliefs and understandings of who the socially isolated and lonely are in our communities and neighborhoods.

Here are some of the most revealing factors of the study:

  1. People from underrepresented racial groups are more likely to be lonely. 75% of Hispanic adults and 68% of Black/African American adults are classified as lonely – at least 10 points higher than what is seen among the total adult population (58%). This is notably different than previous data which showed similar experiences of loneliness across racial and ethnic groups.

  2. People with lower incomes are lonelier than those with higher incomes. Nearly two-thirds of adults (63%) earning less than $50,000 per year are classified as lonely. This is 10 points higher than those earning $50,000 or more. Relatedly, almost three in four people (72%) who receive health benefits through Medicaid are classified as lonely, which is substantially more than the 55% of adults covered by private, employer- or union-provided health insurance benefits.

  3. Young adults are twice as likely to be lonely than seniors. 79% of adults aged 18 to 24 report feeling lonely compared to 41% of seniors aged 66 and older. This is consistent with earlier research.

  4. More than twice as many younger adults as older adults experience feeling left out. More than two in five adults (42%) aged 18 to 34 report “always” feeling “left out,” compared to just 16% of people aged 55 or older who say the same.

  5. Men and women have roughly the same likelihood of loneliness. 57% of men and 59% of women reported being lonely. Loneliness levels were close to equal in 2018 as well, with 53% of men and 54% of women reporting feelings of loneliness. In 2019, data showed a spike in loneliness among men, with 63% experiencing loneliness compared to 58% of women.

  6. Parents and guardians are more likely to be lonely than non-parents.  Polls found that adults in households with children were more likely to report negative mental health impacts than adults in households without children and that in general, mothers were more likely than fathers to experience mental health issues. Similarly, this data shows that as we emerge from the pandemic, parents and guardians of children, and in particular mothers and single parents, are more likely to experience feelings of loneliness than those without children.

These are just a few of the very interesting insights into the data, and I’d highly recommend reading the entire report.  In the section titled “Confronting the Loneliness Epidemic”, you will find these words:

It will take private and public sectors coming together to drive systemic change……[They] can start by focusing on those who are more likely to be experiencing loneliness – younger people, people from underrepresented groups, and parents – and find new ways to intervene and engage.”

What’s your story? Have you found the following statement to be true? “When technology takes the place of in-person relationships, it has been found to increase loneliness…”. How is your community, neighborhood, school, or workplace helping to build healthy relationships and a sense of social connectivity? Do you agree with the insights of this study? Describe opportunities available to people in your city who desire to overcome feelings of loneliness. How do you wish community leaders could address this epidemic? Are innovative program contents available, such as creative arts, and social-emotional learning activities for people of various ages and stages of life?

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