Best of: Vivek Murthy on America’s loneliness epidemic
At the holidays, I wanted to share some of my favorite episodes of the show with you (we’ll be back next week with brand new episodes). My conversation with Vivek Murthy tops that list, and it has particular force this Thanksgiving, when so many are alone on a day when connection means so much.
As US surgeon general from 2014 to 2017, Murthy visited communities across the United States to talk about issues like addiction, obesity, and mental illness. But he found that what Americans wanted to talk to him about the most was loneliness. In a 2018 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 22 percent of all adults in the US — almost 60 million Americans — said they often or always felt lonely or socially isolated.
Murthy went on to write Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, and was recently named one of the co-chairs of Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force. Those projects may sound different, but they connect: Coronavirus has made America’s loneliness crisis far worse. Social distancing, while necessary from a public health standpoint, has caused a collapse in social contact among family, friends, and entire communities. And the people most vulnerable to the virus — the elderly, the disabled, the ill — are also unusually likely to suffer from loneliness.
Murthy’s explanation of how loneliness acts on the body is worth the time, all on its own — it’ll change how you see the relationship between social experience and physical health. But the broader message here is deeper: You are not alone in your loneliness. None of us are. And the best thing we can do for our own feeling of isolation is often to help someone else out of the very pit we’re in.
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch
Dear Madam President by Jennifer Palmieri
Producer/Audio engineer - Jeff Geld
Researcher - Roge Karma
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