Minister of Loneliness to Combat the “Hidden Epidemic”

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You sit alone in your room, reminiscing about the last time you engaged in a worthwhile conversation with another person. Gradually, it dawns on you that it has been quite some time, perhaps more than a month, since you actually spoke of your feelings to someone close. This is when that annoying pang of emptiness permeates your being; most of us are no strangers to this feeling – this is the feeling of isolation, this is ‘loneliness’.

According to a survey by Red Cross, about 9 million people are affected by the problem of loneliness. Loneliness is undoubtedly a growing social reality, reflecting upon which a lot of debates have taken place. To confront this hidden epidemic, the Prime Minister of U.K, Theresa May has appointed the former Minister of Sports and Civil Society, Tracey Crouch as the country’s first ‘Minister of Loneliness’.

The country’s decision to combat the issue of loneliness was inspired by the findings of the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission. This Commission was set up in honour of lawmaker and Labour Party MP, Jo Cox, who was murdered by a right-winged extremist in 2016 during her pursuit to combat the menace of isolation.

The Jo Cox Commission, which is chaired by the Labour MP Rachel Reeves and Seema Kennedy, has been working for the past year with more than a dozen charities on ideas to approach the problem. In a joint statement, Reeves and Kennedy said they welcomed the government response and would work with Crouch and various groups to arrest the issue.

The report of the Commission struck a chord across the political spectrum, at a time of otherwise highly divided politics. “Loneliness is a warning sign that our needs are not being met. Hunger is a sign that we need food; thirst is a sign that we need water and pain signals that our body is sick and needs healing and repair. Experiencing loneliness tells that there is a gap between our need to connect and the reality of the connectedness that we have at the moment,” said Reeves in a debate in the House of Commons late last year.

The Government expressed that apt measures will be adapted to work on ‘cross-government strategy’ and a fund to find innovative solutions to loneliness in communities will also be set up.

It is imperative that this governmental effort is diffused across all the age groups; as Cox rightly mentioned “young or old, loneliness doesn’t discriminate.” Without the right support at the right time, there will certainly be a transition of loneliness from a temporary situation to a chronic issue that might further contribute to numerous health problems.

In a world which is stress filled, there is a growing tendency among people of all age groups to withdraw into a cocoon of loneliness, and the problem is not in U.K. alone but is, in fact, a global issue. The initiative taken by the Government in U.K. should be perceived by other nations as an essential step in addressing and tackling the issue of loneliness, and establish similar ministries for the holistic evolvement of their citizens.

Simple measures can prove to be instrumental in bringing about monumental differences. The Government stands as the bastion of hope and integrity, but only the combined effort of every person in the society can have a huge impact on the nation as a whole. The root causes of loneliness can be proficiently addressed by understanding the predicament of loneliness, and then by changing the nature of the society so that it no longer generates loneliness. The Minister of Loneliness cannot successfully tackle the epidemic devoid of cooperation from the people.

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Article contributed by:

Prerna Mitra
Head – Promotion and Marketing & In-house Writer




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