Loneliness has apparently become such a huge problem in the United Kingdom that Prime Minister Theresa May appointed a minister to deal with the issue.
The Minister for Sports and Civil Society Tracey Crouch will be filling for the role of ministerial lead on loneliness. He will reportedly construct a national strategy to tackle issues related with isolation and solitary.
"We know that there is a real impact of social isolation and loneliness on people, on their physical and mental well-being but also on other aspects in society and we want to tackle this challenge,” Crouch said.
Chronic loneliness, a problem more than 9 million U.K. citizens suffer, is a challenge May is willing to confront.
"I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones — people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with," she said.
According to government statistics, “around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month” and “up to 85% of young disabled adults — 18-34 year olds — feel lonely.”
The move was made on the recommendation of former Member of Parliament Jo Cox, who set up a commission before she was murdered in cold blood by a neo-Nazi terrorist. The commission, chaired by MP Rachel Reeves and MP Seema Kennedy, had called out for a minister to be appointed by the government.
"This is an issue that Jo cared passionately about and we will honor her memory by tackling it, helping the millions of people across the U.K. who suffers from loneliness. Jo Cox recognized the scale of loneliness across the country and dedicated herself to doing all she could to help those affected,” the prime minister added.
Reeves, upon learning the government’s plan, said, “We are really pleased to see that the government is taking the issue of loneliness very seriously with its prompt response to our report. Jo Cox said that, young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate.”
According to research studies, feelings of social isolation can have profound effects on health. It can even lead to premature death and is as bad for health as smoking 15 cigarettes daily.
Crouch said, "Loneliness can be triggered by a life event, such as bereavement or becoming a parent, with certain groups, such as young people and carers, particularly at risk.”
The U.K. government has announced a method of measuring loneliness which will be devised by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
Despite the step being a good initiative to counter the problems associated with loneliness — such as suicide, drugs, etc. — people are bashing the move on social media.
The UK is now so bereft of empathy, it needs a Minister for Loneliness? Says more about people, than government.— Paul Littlebury (@jaffamonkey) January 17, 2018
Can't work out why the government have only appointed one minister for loneliness.— Chris Hides (@chides) January 17, 2018
Some people believe Theresa May is lonely herself.
One Twitter user pointed out another problem.
It's hard to take this seriously when social care for older people has been cut by 40%, people with MH needs wait months for help and care leavers sleep on the streets.— Sara Livadeas (@saralivadeas) January 17, 2018
Thumbnail/Banner : Reuters, Dylan Martinez