Loneliness ‘as damaging for your health as poverty’

LONELINESS and social isolation can be as damaging to Scots’ health as poverty and poor housing, according to a report from a Holyrood committee.

Loneliness 'as damaging for your health as poverty and bad housing'. Picture: Getty Images

Members of the Equal Opportunities Committee have called on the Scottish Government to prioritise loneliness as part of the public health agenda and adopt a national strategy to tackle the problem.

A report published today told of older people visiting their GP just for company, while organisations described a woman so socially isolated that she lived without power for months.

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Margaret McCulloch MSP, committee convener, said: “The report highlights the stigma people currently face, and how difficult it is to admit to loneliness.

“Whatever your age, it is unacceptable to feel you cannot seek help.

“The health impact in Scotland is too great. But currently a lack of awareness of the impact of isolation allows it to be ignored.”

Malnutrition can be compounded by isolation in older people and there are proven links between loneliness and dementia rates, said Ms McCulloch.

She added: “Social isolation and loneliness is a considerable problem in Scotland and individual citizens, public services and the Scottish Government must take collective responsibility to tackle the situation.”