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Loneliness increasing among all age groups, Harvard study finds

Churches and ministries may need to pay careful attention to people experiencing loneliness brought on by lockdowns and social distancing.

More than three in 10 Americans feel “serious loneliness,” according to a new survey from the Harvard Graduate School of Education reported. This includes 61 percent of young adults and 51 percent of mothers with young children. The report was based on an online survey of approximately 950 Americans. The data are considered preliminary but might give some insight into the mental state of Americans.

The Wall Street Journal” spoke with Dr. Richard Weissbourd, a senior lecturer at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. “I think it’s in our consciousness that the elderly are the ones who are lonely, but young people are lonely, too,” he said.

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Mothers with young children also reported experiencing high levels of loneliness. Thirty-five percent of parents reported frequent loneliness, but the percentage of mothers was much higher, at 51 percent. Weissbourd noted that the pandemic has added stress for mothers while also potentially taking away their ability to connect with people.

When asked how people can combat the feelings of loneliness, Weissbourd said that making a point to add social interactions throughout one’s day can help. “A lot of people are so depleted right now that a simple hello can be really meaningful,” he said.

The report adds, “Loneliness is a culprit in a whole slew of problems, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, heart disease and domestic abuse — problems that all appear to be ticking up during the pandemic.”

The health effects of the pandemic could be felt for a long time in the United States. The ability for human beings to reconnect with one another is not only a mental health issue but should be included as a concern for the physical health of Americans when leaders are considering when and how to reopen the country.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice