WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Tuesday introduced legislation to create a national strategy to combat America’s epidemic of loneliness and promote social connection in our communities. The National Strategy for Social Connection Act would create an Office of Social Connection Policy within the White House to work across federal agencies to develop effective strategies for improved social infrastructure and issue national guidelines for social connection similar to existing guidelines on sleep, nutrition, and physical activity. It would also provide funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to better understand the epidemic of social isolation and loneliness.
“Loneliness is one of the most serious, misunderstood problems facing America today. It may not sound like a problem government should care about, but I believe it’s irresponsible for policymakers to continue ignoring this epidemic. Loneliness leads to worse health outcomes and breeds political instability. It’s time for a real conversation about how as a society we can combat social isolation, promote connection, and strengthen communities. This legislation provides a starting point for a national, government-wide strategy for tackling loneliness. This crisis transcends traditional political boundaries, presenting a chance to bring together right and left around a project to help people find connectedness. I look forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure Congress plays a part in the solution,” said Murphy.
In May, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released an advisory declaring loneliness a public health epidemic. According to the CDC, more than 1 in 3 adults aged 45 and older feel lonely in the United States. Social isolation and loneliness increases your risk for heart disease by 29 percent, stroke by 32 percent, and dementia in older adults by 50 percent. Loneliness is also associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
Last month, Murphy spoke on the U.S. Senate floor to highlight the epidemic of loneliness, why policymakers should care about this problem, and how Congress can be part of the solution.
Murphy recently co-wrote an op-ed in the Daily Beast with Ian Marcus Corbin, a philosopher at Harvard Medical School and a Senior Fellow at the think tank Capita, to call for a spiritual renaissance in American politics. In April, Murphy also authored an op-ed in TIME with Richard Weissbourd, a Senior Lecturer and the faculty director of the Making Caring Common Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, on how America’s obsession with individual success has come at the expense of our sense of community and the collective good. Murphy first outlined the politics of loneliness in a piece for the Bulwark last year.
Full text of the bill is available here.
A one-pager of the bill is available here.