UK gets new loneliness minister

UK gets new loneliness minister

The British government on Jan. 17, 2018, decided to appoint a minister for loneliness to deal with the growing problem of loneliness across the country. The initiative can be rightly attributed to efforts of Jo Cox, the Labor Party lawmaker who met her brutal end at the hands of a far right activist in 2016. Shortly before her killing, Cox had set up a commission to look into the issue of loneliness, which was taking a heavy toll on the mental health of people nationwide.

Taking Cox’s initiative forward, two lawmakers — Rachel Reeves of Labor Party and Conservative Seema Kennedy — called for “national action.” They insisted on a nationwide strategy to tackle the issue at the grassroots level, besides placing the demand for a separate minister. “Young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate. Throughout 2017 we have heard from new parents, children, disabled people, carers, refugees and older people about their experience of loneliness,” the duo said in a joint statement.

The minister for sport and civil society, Tracy Couch, will take over the responsibility of looking into cross-governmental matter concerning the loneliness crisis. She vowed to work with both campaigners and politicians cutting across party lines. Meanwhile, government authorities also assured a budget was allocated to discover new solutions to fight loneliness. Cox’s widower, Brendan Cox, several charity organizations, and the Loneliness Commission have lauded the latest measures.

More than 9 million adults in the United Kingdom are often or always lonely, according to a 2017 report published by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness. The report also said that the condition could be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It highlighted that apart from senior citizens, the differently abled, 17- to 25-year-olds, migrants and refugees formed the most vulnerable sections of society. According to most general practitioners (GPs) in the U.K., one to five patients came to their clinic due to loneliness.

Loneliness may lead to depression

Britain is not alone in this matter. In 2016, the then-U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy expressed concern that more and more Americans were struggling with loneliness and social isolation. According to the Health and Retirement Study, approximately 28 percent of older Americans experience chronic loneliness. In fact, research shows loneliness is capable of triggering high levels of emotional distress, leading to anxiety, depression, hypertension, cognitive impairments, heart disease and dementia.

Many individuals grappling with loneliness can also experience various situations of fear, and mental and physical uneasiness. As such people seek immediate and quick ways to relieve themselves of such feelings, they are usually fast to consume alcohol, take some medication, or in some cases, resort to drug abuse to temporarily inflate their low self-worth.

Mental health problems are treatable

Mental health problems are marked by deviations and anomalies in thinking patterns, behaviors and emotions. Currently, more Americans battle mental disorders that one can even think of. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that about one in five adults in the U.S. or around 43.8 million Americans experience mental health problems in a given year. However, it is unfortunate that less than half of them receive professional treatment for their condition.

When wondering where to start with to find help for mental problems, one needn’t look further than the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline, which offers help to people battling psychiatric conditions, such as anxiety and depression. Reach out to us at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 653-8178 to know about the finest mental health rehab center in your vicinity and get the best treatment for your needs. You can also chat online with one of our representatives for more information.