Probably the biggest unintended consequence of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic was the creation of isolation, anxiety, depression, and rising substance use caused by the disintegration of social interaction. The situation had already been brewing for years due to the increase in use of social media, which many experts have shown to often be more damaging than beneficial. Although the public health emergency officially ended this month, and many of the mandates and restrictions faded away many months prior, the lingering effect on society has not.
The toll on our nation’s and the world’s collective mental health condition cannot be understated. Helping to shed light on the issue, the Surgeon General recently released an Advisory called “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.”
Here is a selection from the report:
“Loneliness is far more than just a bad feeling—it harms both individual and societal health. It is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety, and premature death. The mortality impact of being socially disconnected is similar to that caused by smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day,4 and even greater than that associated with obesity and physical inactivity. And the harmful consequences of a society that lacks social connection can be felt in our schools, workplaces, and civic organizations, where performance, productivity, and engagement are diminished.
Loneliness and isolation represent profound threats to our health and well-being. But we have the power to respond. By taking small steps every day to strengthen our relationships, and by supporting community efforts to rebuild social connection, we can rise to meet this moment together. We can build lives and communities that are healthier and happier. And we can ensure our country and the world are better poised than ever to take on the challenges that lay ahead.
Our future depends on what we do today.”
The answer is to encourage and enhance social connection, and the report talks about a six pillar approach:
1. Strengthen Social Infrastructure in Local Communities
2. Enact Pro-Connection Public Policies
3. Mobilize the Health Sector
4. Reform Digital Environments
5. Deepen our Knowledge
6. Cultivate a Culture of Connection
How We are Helping to Address these Issues
Innovia Behavioral Health is designed to help create connection and belonging through a wide variety of educational, experiential, and therapeutic support groups. This is most obvious in the fourth pillar mentioned above, which endorses certain types of digital environments:
“In a positive vein, we should support the development of pro-connection technology to promote healthy social connection, create safe environments for discourse, and safeguard the well-being of users.”
We also help address the sixth pillar, as we are creating a culture of connection that spans not just the United States, but globally.
“A culture of connection is vital to creating the changes needed in society…Such a culture of connection rests on core values of kindness, respect, service, and commitment to one another… Behaviors are both learned from and reinforced by the groups we participate in and the communities we are a part of.”
We are working to create spaces for connection and belonging for just about everyone as we continue to grow. Contact us today to find out more about our services.