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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

County Declares Loneliness a Public Health Crisis

Chinese retired Asian Parkinson's patient undergoing rehab training with bead roller coater at home.

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San Mateo County near San Francisco is the first county in the U.S. to declare loneliness a public health crisis. The resolution, which commits the county to address the issue but does not set aside funds to reduce loneliness, was inspired by the United Kingdom and Japan, which appointed ministers to tackle the problem. Future efforts by San Mateo County may include investments in infrastructure to make neighborhoods more accessible, social media posts that encourage social interaction and the earmarking of community mental health dollars for organizations that develop or offer solutions. 

Loneliness has been associated with increased risks of dementiadepressionanxietyheart disease and stroke. A British study found that those that lived alone and had no visitors had a 39 percent increased risk of premature death compared to those visited by loved ones daily.