Loneliness is a felt deprivation of connection, companionship, and camaraderie. At least a quarter of adults are reported to experience persistent loneliness and the consequences can be highly detrimental to mental and physical health.
Actions to address loneliness tend to be mental health oriented, treatment focused, and weak or ineffective. Unfortunately, despite being in the era of planetary health, narratives on loneliness and what can be done to address it tend to ignore potentially powerful and dynamic environmental influences. Loneliness is not an illness, but a feature of urban planning and societal systems that have not prioritised people's health and social needs.
Without disrupting the conditions that entrench loneliness - what Prof Feng and Astell-Burt have coined ‘Lonelygenic Environments’ - to which some groups of people are likely to be more vulnerable than others, investments in person-focused remedies are being set up for failure.
LEARN is investigating multilevel factors and the collective, relational, and personal experiences we have with them to define the scale of harm caused by Lonelygenic Environments and the potency of potential solutions to them, whether they be capacity building, restorative, or harm reducing in nature.
For more info, please see a recent paper in The Lancet Planetary Health: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(22)00306-0/fulltext