Doctors Encouraged to Refer the Lonely to Social Activities

The long term effects of loneliness have been linked to illnesses including heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

Instead of offering medication, doctors will be encouraged to use “social prescribing” to refer lonely patients to activities that could help tackle feelings of isolation.

Theresa May recently launched the first loneliness strategy saying social prescriptions would reduce demand on the NHS and improve patients’ quality of life.

Mrs May plans for the new approach to be in place by 2023.

In addition, extra funding (£1.8m) has been pledged to support community projects, such as community cafes, art spaces or gardens.

Age UK are on record stating that loneliness is a potential public health concern. More than 2 million people over 50 will be lonely by 2025-26, a 49% increase on the 1.36 million who were socially isolated in 2015-16, according to projections by the charity.

Additional announcements to combat loneliness include an employers pledge to tackle loneliness in the workplace. Additionally, postal workers are to be encouraged to check in with lonely people on their delivery rounds.

Read more about the announcements here.

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