Studies show that loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking or obesity. People who are lonely are at higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and dementia. What if the entire community was treated as part of the health care system, and if social connection and health were treated as though they went hand in hand?
In 2013 general practitioner Dr. Helen Kingston started a project called Compassionate Frome when she noticed that many of her patients were coming into her clinic complaining of loneliness. Compassionate Frome began training “health connectors”—volunteers in the community who understand the range of health and wellness services available to patients. When someone was struggling with their health and complaining of loneliness, a health connector would be assigned to meet with that person and talk with them, providing a social connection while also helping them find the resources to address their health concerns.
These health connectors could connect the patients to traditional medical services, but also to social services: discussion groups, a “shed” where men could come together to work on projects, group exercise classes, help with shopping, help joining a community choir, even a befriending service.
Read more here on David Byrne’s (Formerly of the Talking Heads band), Reasons to be Cheerful website