Recent data indicate that social isolation and feelings of loneliness have been increasing among many Americans. Public health efforts such as social distancing, necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, may be inadvertently contributing to these issues.
Our new explainer examines research on social Isolation and loneliness, which can have detrimental impacts on individuals’ mental and physical health. The explainer also provides context on the causes of social isolation and loneliness, their prevalence prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of the pandemic on them, and opportunities to address them.
Among the research cited: The University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging surveyed older adults conducted in June 2020 and found that 56% reported feeling isolated from others, more than double the percentage who reported feeling isolated in 2018 (27%).
Another national survey of adults, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Society, found that 13.6% of adults reported symptoms of serious psychological distress in April 2020, compared to 3.9% in 2018, with the highest levels of distress identified among young adults ages 18 to 29.