Loneliness has become a pressing public health threat, comparable to smoking and obesity, according to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, M.D.
Many Americans grapple with this painful experience, often hidden in the shadows due to feelings of shame. Dr. Murthy himself has personally encountered the gravity of loneliness, both as a child and as an adult.
Recognizing the dire consequences of loneliness, Dr. Murthy released a new Surgeon General Advisory, shedding light on the crisis of isolation, lack of connection and its impact on public health. Loneliness not only increases the risk of physical ailments like heart disease, dementia and stroke, but also contributes to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and suicide. The potential consequences of loneliness are so grave that they may equate to smoking 15 cigarettes daily and pose a greater health risk than obesity.
Startlingly, around half of adults and numerous children struggle with loneliness, despite the prevalent use of online platforms to connect with peers. However, Dr. Murthy emphasizes that technology fails to adequately replace in-person connection.
Psychiatrist Daniel Amen, a mental health expert, warns that social media can be addictive and anticipates a worsening of the problem. He asserts that society is on the brink of a wave of brain and mental health issues, largely due to increasing disconnection. With faces buried in gadgets, individuals have become more detached from their own families.
Dr. Amen stresses that loneliness was already a significant concern in America before the pandemic, but the COVID-related shutdowns have increased the problem. Although the pandemic may be subsiding, many people remain isolated from their pre-pandemic social interactions. In response, Dr. Amen advocates for reducing screen time and maximizing in-person interactions as a means to combat loneliness.
He proposes a powerful solution: returning to church.
Dr. Amen encourages individuals to actively participate in church communities and groups, highlighting the unique and profound connection that can be found within these settings. Church provides a nurturing environment where people can genuinely support and connect with one another.
As Christians, we recognize the importance of gathering together in fellowship and worship. The Bible offers guidance on the significance of community and support. Hebrews 10:25 encourages believers not to forsake assembling together, but to gather in order to encourage one another. Proverbs 27:17 reminds us that iron sharpens iron, emphasizing the transformative power of meaningful relationships. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 emphasizes the strength and warmth found in companionship, stating, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.”
In these trying times, let us heed the wisdom found in the Scriptures and seek solace, connection and support within the body of Christ.
By embracing the love of Jesus and fostering genuine relationships, we can combat the epidemic of loneliness and experience the profound joy and fulfillment that comes from being united in Christ.
James Lasher is Staff Writer for Charisma Media.