A Loneliness Taskforce has been established in an attempt to tackle ‘one of the greatest public health risks today'.
ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, has formed the taskforce in collaboration with Senator Keith Swanick. It aims to increase awareness of loneliness and social isolation in Irish society, and come up with recommendations for the Government, state agencies and policy makers on how to tackle this.
"Loneliness is one of the greatest public health risks today. One in every 10 older people suffer from chronic loneliness, and the problem is now also prevalent in young people. Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health and are worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity," commented ALONE chief executive, Seán Moyhihan.
He said that the charity has been working to tackle this issue since 1977, however the problem has worsened ‘among all ages over the last number of years'.
"We can't tackle it alone. This is why we have taken the lead with Senator Swanick to establish the Loneliness Taskforce. We are asking interest groups and other organisations to submit short-term, medium-term and long-term proposals that could make a significant change to the issue of loneliness in Ireland," Mr Moynihan noted.
The taskforce is looking for input from interested individuals, groups and other organisations. This input will be included in a report, which will focus on what is needed to tackle the issue of loneliness in Ireland.
The report will be published in the coming months.
"The decision to establish the Loneliness Taskforce arises from a passion to address the epidemic of loneliness and social isolation. We know that loneliness never discriminates between young or old, between rich or poor and between urban or rural and the Loneliness Taskforce is working to increase awareness about the issue and to produce a set of recommendations for Government, state agencies and all policy makers," commented Senator Keith Swanick, who is also a GP.
He noted that in his work, he meets people every day who are lonely and this can have ‘a devastating impact on their mental and physical health'.
The Loneliness Taskforce will be chaired by Senator Swanick and members will include Mr Moyhihan, consultant psychiatrist at St James's Hospital, Prof Brian Lawlor, and the director of the Institute of Public Health, Dr Roger O'Sullivan.
Anyone who would like to make a submission or suggestion to the taskforce can do so here or via post to Dr Keith Swanick, Chairperson of the Loneliness Taskforce, Seanad Éireann, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.
The deadline for receipt of submissions is Monday, April 9.
Anyone with concerns about their own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of an older person in their community, can contact ALONE on (01) 679 1032. For more information on the charity, click here