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CT launches campaign against loneliness

Two people hold hands.
Lynne Sladky
Two people hold hands.

Connecticut is launching a social connection campaign to curb loneliness. Gov. Ned Lamont (D) has tapped Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysieiwcz (D) to lead the campaign.

“As a nation and a state, we are seeing an epidemic of loneliness and isolation," Bysiewicz said "The health impacts of this epidemic are very real — they are so significant and so widespread that the U.S. Surgeon General has put social isolation and loneliness on the same level as public health crises like tobacco addiction, AIDS, drunk driving, obesity, and gun violence.”

“We've seen recent efforts emerging to address this crisis, and today marks an important next step in exploring how we, as a state, can best address this issue,” she added.

Bysieiwcz said the campaign will encourage state agencies to collaborate on wraparound solutions to loneliness, raise awareness about existing programs and work with municipalities to bolster local social community organizations.

Nancy Nevarretta, commissioner of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, said the department can support residents in need through its many programs. They include peer specialists, various hotlines and senior outreach programs.

But they can only help if residents know where to look.

“As a state we have invested in supportive resources,” Neverretta said. “And it is incumbent upon us to make sure that our residents know what is available so that they can receive the help and the support that they need.”

According to Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani, social isolation can exacerbate several illnesses.

“Some of these include chronic diseases, suicide and gun violence, children and adults with special health care needs, pregnant women who do not have access to proper prenatal care, and the lack of proper eating habits and physical activity,” Juthani said.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) has been a lead advocate for social connection to battle loneliness at the federal level. Bysieiwcz cited his efforts as inspiration for the campaign.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.