The United Kingdom became the first country to put into practice a ministry of loneliness in 2018.
The government in the United Kingdom (UK) announced that it was appointing a Minister of Loneliness in 2018. The announcement was greeted with humor on both sides of the Atlantic, but as more serious commentators pointed out, “loneliness is a real and diagnosable scourge.”
At the end of 2017, a UK government commission issued the results of a year-long investigation into the prevalence of loneliness in the UK, conducted with the help of more than a dozen non-profit organizations. According to the report, 9 million Britons suffer from loneliness 14% of the population. Among the more vulnerable, such as the elderly and those living with disabilities, the rates are much higher.
Loneliness has been defined as the perceived sense of isolation. It has been proposed that in the course of human evolution, loneliness has served adaptive ends, fostering connection and reconnection with others, ensuring our safety and long-term survival. Increasingly, loneliness is recognized as being an important social determinant of health. In late childhood and early adolescence loneliness results in impaired sleep, symptoms of depression, and poorer general health.