To Prevent Loneliness, Start in the Classroom

The Brigham Young University psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad, one of the foremost scholars on loneliness in the United States, warns that the U.S. has a significant, largely unaddressed loneliness problem of its own—and that schools desperately need to follow the U.K.’s lead and incorporate preventive measures into their lessons.

Indeed, according to a recent report by the health-care company Cigna, nearly half of adults in the U.S. reported sometimes or always feeling alone. Marriage rates and religious-participation rates are also dropping, and both are risk factors for social isolation and loneliness. The prevalence of loneliness seems to be especially acute among young adults: One study last year found that Americans ages 21 to 30 reported feeling lonely on twice as many days as adults ages 50 to 70, despite having larger social networks. The health consequences of loneliness can be severe: Studies suggest chronic loneliness is linked to a variety of health issues, such as decreased immunity to viral infectionspoor sleep, and cardiovascular issues like hypertension. Read more here.