Officials in California's San Mateo County have declared loneliness a public health emergency. The county is the first in the nation to make such a declaration.
The county's Board of Supervisors said they want to address the issue and promote social connections within their local community.
"What we're trying to do is to really get people out of the corners and say, 'Hey, look, there are a lot of people who are feeling like you. You're not alone. And moving forward, here are some of the things that we can do to support you,'" said David Canepa, the vice president of the Board of Supervisors.
Canepa noted that the number of people who are feeling lonely spiked following the coronavirus pandemic.
"We have 45% of the people who find themselves being lonely. Who suffer from loneliness," he explained.
Last year, United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy raised the alarm about the rising number of people who are experiencing loneliness and the effect it has on their mental health.
"Given the significant health consequences of loneliness and isolation, we must prioritize building social connection the same way we have prioritized other critical public health issues such as tobacco, obesity, and substance use disorders. Together, we can build a country that's healthier, more resilient, less lonely, and more connected," he said in a press release in May 2023.