Surgeon General Issues New Report On Loneliness and Isolation

A silent epidemic is working its way into our schools and workplaces. A recent report by the surgeon general warns about the effects of loneliness and isolation. Loneliness and social isolation are bad for health, safety, educational attainment, resilience, and prosperity. The far-reaching impacts surprised me. I thought it was interesting enough to share. If you haven’t seen the report, you can read it here.

In the last 20 years, the amount of time Americans spend along has increased by 24 hours/month. At the same time, we spend 20 hours less per month engaging in face-to-face relationships. And Americans are now making fewer close friendships. Less than half report having more than three close friends.

Here’s why this is a problem. Social connections provide opportunities for support.

When children have positive social relationships, they do better in school. Positive social relationships reduce the risk of depression and anxiety. This is a risk that remains high as long as nine years later. Positive relationships can help children make better choices in the company they keep.

For employees, workplace connectedness improves job satisfaction and creativity. It also helps reduce chronic work stress and burnout.

The report makes recommendations for advancing social connections. Here are the two implementation suggestions for educators and employers:

  • Provide regular opportunities for students to develop social skills and build stronger friendships. These should be with peers and school staff.
  • Make social connectivity among all levels of staff a workplace priority. Implement programs that foster connection.

The Daily Mile’s 15 minutes of outdoor movement with peers and teachers provide space for building connections and support systems. I hope you find it a useful tool for doing so. Please stay tuned for an upcoming post by Program Director (and former school administrator) Bill Russell. In it, he’ll unveil his favorite tool for cultivating trusted relationships among staff.

Best regards,

Kathryn Shuler

Executive Director

INEOS ICAN Foundation – host of The Daily Mile USA