US Surgeon General releases Advisory on social connection

Image of the US Surgeon General Advisory on Social Connection

This week, the United States Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, released a national strategy on social connection. Click here to learn more.

Coming in the wake of the mental health crisis and the loneliness epidemic, and close on the heels of the Surgeon General’s Workplace Mental Health Framework, this Advisory on social connection aims to show us “how to build more connected lives and a more connected society.” Click to read the full Advisory.

The Advisory draws together cumulative evidence on the importance of social connection on our physical and mental health. In a nutshell, the research shows that meaningful social connection can improve our health and wellbeing, while loneliness and an inadequacy of healthy connections in our life can increase the risk for negative health outcomes. What’s more, the literature shows a dose-response relationship in that increasing social connection and a sense of belonging by small increments can improve health and reduce the risk for ill health and mortality.  Meaningful social connection is a key determinant of health and well-being. See how health and social connection are linked.

And yet, a study of our social connection trends over the past two decades in the United States shows that companionship, and engagement with friends and family have declined while social isolation has increased. Take a look at this graphic.

Recognizing this need as a national priority not only shines the light on this topic, it facilitates mechanisms to better understand the issue and drive efforts toward increasing social connectedness through research, education, and action. Although social connection has been a focus in public health, especially in the context of older adulthood, this has become a heightened need among all age groups, as well as within our workforce. There is much to be done and identifying the need for social connection as a national priority is a major initial step.

Did you know that loneliness is a global issue? Learn more about efforts around the world.

The release of the US Surgeon General strategy on social connection includes a package that comprises an Advisory, summary and key takeaway documents, a number of shareable graphics, and recommendations for action in various realms such as public health, healthcare systems, schools, community groups, media, technology, research, government, philanthropy and the workplace. Links to some components are below: