Loneliness is becoming an "epidemic" and is associated with illnesses like heart disease, dementia, depression, anxiety, and longevity.
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Ventilen, or “friend to one” in Danish, is an organization that helps 15-to-25-year-olds get together twice a week with two or three volunteers. Together, the people in the group play games, make meals, go to the cinema, and build human connections.
Back in 1999, a support group called Bright Point was formed to fill the need of friends. But when people came together, no one talked. It was only after games were introduced as a catalyst that friendships started forming. Later, making meals and exercising was added successfully.
The program is not without challenges. Many lonely people may feel intimidated and won't attend. But designating a space for gathering and activities is a good step toward tackling loneliness.
... is that lonely people can’t see that lots of people feel the same way they do.
Loneliness seems to be such a painful, frightening experience that people will do anything to avoid it. We shut down the lonely, afraid that this might be some kind of a contagious situation.
Objectively measuring loneliness in the brain, as opposed to asking people how they feel, could give clarity on, for example, the connection between loneliness and depression. It could also shed some light on addiction.
The ability to measure loneliness may make it far easier to design targeted interventions.