Skip to main content

What is the loneliness epidemic?


Recently, many health experts have been researching and discussing what they are calling the loneliness epidemic. From the NPR article, "Loneliness isn't just a fleeting feeling, leaving us sad for a few hours to a few days. Research in recent years suggests that for many people, loneliness is more like a chronic ache, affecting their daily lives and sense of well-being."

The article goes on to discuss the multiple health impacts of loneliness to include higher risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, influence on immune systems and even recovery from certain forms of breast cancer. The evidence points to a correlation between loneliness and increase risks for premature mortality. 

I invite you to bookmark and  listen to the following podcast The Loneliness Epidemic and use the lens of adult education as you listen. What is our role, if we even have one, in helping individuals develop social connections? 

I'd love to hear your thoughts. What are you seeing in the classroom? And even, what are you seeing with your colleagues in the workplace? How can we address this surging epidemic? And - how do we prepare our staff to address this concern? 

Kathy Tracey




Andrea Guerrero's picture

Great link Kathy, and podcast to consider.

As we develop relationships with students through courses, I feel prompt feedback especially when reading and responding to reflective exercises is a way to gain insight to students perceptions of self and their place in the community. Also, being aware that having group work does not ensure loneliness will not be present. For introverts, this could actually push them into loneliness because loneliness is not that same an isolation. Engaging with students as instructors at the personal level is just as important as the engaging of students with the content.

On the student support side, I think to have resources for instructors is key -where to refer students, and to whom; as well as, having forums or blogs where students can engage with others. For example, encouraging students to attend a lecture series, dance performances, volunteering, movie nights, etc or just to attend something they would not normally go to could be impactful to the student's experience and complement their education to learn who they are. Really focusing on removing the stigma of counseling and being open where to seek help or resources on campus is important so students realize these are services that are provided for them often through fees that are already being paid. 

Kathy_Tracey's picture
One hundred

I love the connection of student services and enrichment activities that support the development of the student. I also really like how you spoke to the needs of introverted students. So, I'd like to ask other programs, how do you engage students in enrichment activities? And what are the types of services are offered? 

I'd love to hear your thoughts.