Australia is in the midst of a loneliness crisis.
Many in our community do not have sufficient social connections, and do not have enough meaningful relationships in their life to sustain or nurture them, especially during difficult times.
Every year, Neighbour Day is celebrated on the last Sunday in March. This year, Neighbour Day falls Sunday 31 March.
This year’s theme is Loneliness – What Neighbours Can Do to Create Connections. The aim of the day is to foster strong personal connections that last the whole year. Then, every day can be Neighbour Day!
We tend to think of lonely people as old or single people living alone. But loneliness is experienced by people across all ages and social backgrounds. This can include young people, those living with their partners and families, and even people surrounded by others in the workplace can also feel alone most of the time.
Research paints a confronting picture about loneliness:
- It is associated with poor physical health, poor socio-economic outcomes, social anxiety, and poor mental health
- It increases the likelihood of mortality by 26% – similar to the effect of smoking 15 cigarettes a day
- Loneliness is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure and the onset of disability
- People who are socially isolated, or do not have good quality social support, are at greater risk of dying earlier than those with good social connections
- Teenagers who do not have close friendships and good social networks have lower levels of self-esteem, are poorly adjusted, and at higher risk of suicide
- Single parents, particularly men, those who have lost a partner, and those experiencing poor health are at increased risk
You can get involved in Neighbour Day by getting to know your neighbours, putting on a community event or by simply greeting people during your evening/morning walk.
There are lots of useful tips and ideas here and you can sign up for the newsletter Verandah.