California county votes to make loneliness a public health emergency, blaming pandemic


Loneliness has been declared a public health emergency in Silicon Valley.

San Mateo County, located in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, passed a resolution on Jan. 30 that officially declared loneliness a public health crisis.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on the decision, according to a local report.

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“San Mateo County was the first in the nation to declare loneliness a public health crisis after the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution my office authored Tuesday,” said supervisor David Canepa in a post on X. 

Loneliness has been declared a public health emergency in Silicon Valley. (iStock)

“Loneliness has a profound impact on health and is comparable to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day,” he added.

Canepa said he is also calling for the state of California to establish a “minister of loneliness” position.

It would help those “suffering in silence to restore meaningful connections that were lost during the pandemic,” he said.

Senior man looking out of window at home

Loneliness leads to poor health outcomes, including heart attack, depression and even early death, the surgeon general previously said.  (iStock)

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy also posted on X about the vote.

“When I released my Surgeon General’s Advisory on loneliness, I outlined what localities can do to promote connection,” he said. “Grateful to San Mateo County for becoming the first county in America to recognize loneliness as a public health emergency.”

The surgeon general previously said that loneliness leads to poor health outcomes, including heart attack, depression and even early death. 

With the onset of the pandemic, California was the first U.S. state to issue a statewide stay-at-home order on March 19, 2020.

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Dr. David Campbell, clinical and program director at Recover Together Bend, an addiction and mental health treatment facility in Oregon, said he agreed with the decision to declare loneliness a public health emergency.

“Loneliness is absolutely a public health emergency, and the consequences are dire for both mental and also physical health.”

“In present-day America, it appears that we are exchanging floor space and electronic devices for friendships and community,” he told Fox News Digital. 

“Loneliness is absolutely a public health emergency, and the consequences are dire for both mental and also physical health.”

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Evidence suggests that those facing high degrees of loneliness may face consequences such as increased risk of heart disease, dementia, substance abuse, obesity, cognitive decline, reduced life satisfaction and even premature death, Campbell warned.

Loneliness photo

“In present-day America, it appears that we are exchanging floor space and electronic devices for friendships and community,” an expert told Fox News Digital.  (iStock)

“In order to combat loneliness in an increasingly digital world, we must reevaluate our relationships with social media and the virtual realm, strengthen social communities, dramatically increase mental health awareness and reduce barriers to access, encourage civic engagement, and improve social support systems,” he recommended. 

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Campbell also suggested that people should get more involved in their community, pursue activities, consider volunteering and spend time with friends or family.

Fox News Digital reached out to San Mateo County officials requesting additional comment.

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.



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