Many mortal illnesses are close to being cured, but there is one still barely acknowledged, and it’s an epidemic: Loneliness.
Illness? I think so, an insidious, creeping menace; cruel, unforgiving and invisible, an embarrassment for many to even acknowledge. And whilst we should applaud the Prime Minister for recently giving a minister responsibility for it, what a shame it’s been dumped with one based in the department for culture, media and sport, of all places.
Loneliness is above all else a health issue and should be identified properly as such. This would help everyone to acknowledge the impact that undesired solitude has on the well-being of people, causing depression, self-harm and even death. Not really much to do with culture, media or sport, you might say.
Perhaps such casual assigning reflects that even with the best of intentions, society is struggling to recognise that loneliness is not a passing problem. It isn’t. This particular social blight will be with us because we are living longer, and often alone. This can be through choice, actuarial probability, bad luck or divorce; and even because of unrealistic expectations about some ideal human contact that can stop some people making any at all.
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