The UK’s approach to loneliness
Loneliness has always been prevalent in society but its relevance to overall health issues (predominantly mental health) has been frequently overlooked. Current Prime Minister Theresa May has begun the process of taking extra steps to prevent the occurrence of loneliness in society and allow it to become an issue that can be discussed openly among UK residents.
The initial concentration is on the elderly and highlighting how big the issue is within the older generations and to encourage people to tackle loneliness, rather than ignoring it. By 2023 all GPs in England will be able to conduct the process of ‘social prescriptions’; this means that patients can be referred to take part in community activities or voluntary services. Therefore, allowing patients that are struggling with loneliness to become more active socially and physically. The Prime Minister has also been in discussion for another preventative measure that will coincide with the social prescription and has enlisted the help of the postal services to make this a reality. Postal workers will be tasked with speaking to isolated individuals and trying to reconnect them to the community or their families; giving the individuals an opportunity to communicate socially.
The approach to loneliness however, does not stop with the elderly. Further measures are being taken to assure that the UK is open in discussion about this issue and proactive in finding ways to prevent extreme cases. An ‘employer pledge’ is being introduced to ensure that the correct treatments are taking place in the workplace and that employers are attempting to maintain the well-being of their employees both physically and mentally. Mental health in the workplace is a growing discussion and this is another example of implementing conditions to support employees.
Furthermore, with the advancements of technology in society, the Government is also looking into how this impacts mental health and loneliness. The Minister of loneliness and the Minister for digital and creative industries are exploring the possibilities of educating people through schools and specialised courses to prevent technology having massive impacts on the rate of lonely individuals now and in the future.
The Government and Theresa May in particular are taking loneliness very seriously and are tackling it head on to encourage discussion and support the mental health of UK residents; a step in the right direction.