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‘Loneliness on the Job Is a Public Health Crisis’

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‘Loneliness on the Job Is a Public Health Crisis’

Former Surgeon General Reveals What This Means for You


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Loneliness is a public health emergency - and organizations can serve their own self-interest by addressing it.

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If you were to name the top public health issues affecting industrialized nations in 2020, diabetes, heart disease and cancer would probably be on your list. Those were the illnesses top-of-mind also for physician Vivek Murthy when he became US president Barack Obama’s surgeon general. Yet when traveling across the country surveying people suffering from illnesses and chronic health conditions, Murthy discovered that many were facing their health challenges on their own. After leaving his job, Murthy wrote Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, in which he describes the widespread health implications of this loneliness epidemic. He shares some of his insights in an interview with Forbes.


Loneliness is a public health issue.

While serving as Surgeon General of the United States under President Barack Obama, physician Vivek Murthy traveled across the country to survey the top health problems affecting Americans. He found that a common denominator among many people struggling with chronic health issues – addiction, depression or a chronic illness – were strong feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Murthy found confirmation for the anecdotal evidence he had gathered in scientific research that psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad had carried out. She found that loneliness increased people’s risk of early death by as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. In short, loneliness isn’t just an unpleasant feeling. It has real physical consequences and thus constitutes a public health issue.

It’s hard – but necessary – to talk about loneliness.

Many people are reluctant...

About the Author

Professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Forbes contributor Bryan Robinson has written several books, including The Smart Guide to Managing Stress, #Chill and Chained to the Desk.

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