A recent Taskforce report on ‘Loneliness’ urges the Government to fund a public awareness campaign to tackle this nationwide problem.
Chairperson of the Loneliness Taskforce, Senator Keith Swanick, who is also a rural GP, says that loneliness is the most ‘unrecognised health crisis’ of this generation’.
Author and broadcaster, Father Brian D’Arcy, believes people are lonelier than ever and that loneliness is ‘the last taboo in Ireland’.
Asking the government to spend an initial €3 million to combat loneliness, Senator Swanick is certain that prolonged bouts of loneliness can affect physical and mental health and reduce life expectancy.
County Laois-based clinical psychologist, Dr Eddie Murphy, has first-hand experience of this chronic and debilitating human condition. “Just like feelings of hunger or thirst make you eat and drink, the feeling of being lonely signals your need for human contact,” he says.It is important to realise that loneliness is not just an infliction of old age. In an increasingly digitised world, loneliness knows no boundaries and it doesn’t discriminate between young or old, rich or poor or between urban and rural.
While a range of modern devices can certainly help, the importance of personal contact and human interaction with others cannot be superseded by technology alone.
There is already a Minister for Loneliness in Britain and, perhaps, we should follow suit as soon as possible.