Not by my selfie.

In response to the growing public health concern of social isolation and loneliness, the Foundation for Art and Healing has launched The UnLonely Project. The goal of this signature initiative is to broaden public awareness of the negative physical and mental health consequences of loneliness associated with a wide range of living conditions and circumstances while also exploring and promoting creative arts-based approaches to reduce the burden.

A growing body of compelling evidence suggests that there is an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation in the United States with significant negative physical and mental health effects:

  • Loneliness affects more than one-third of American adults, with particular likelihood among individuals facing challenging life circumstances like loss of a loved one, and chronic or catastrophic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, mental illness or cancer.
  • Loneliness has negative effects on mental health, worsening depression, anxiety, mood disorders and cognitive decline, and on physical health, leading to higher rates cardiovascular impairment, chronic pain, and fatigue.
  • Certain age groups, notably adolescents, young adults and older adults seem to be particularly at risk as marked by growing incidence of depression, substance abuse, and suicide.
  • External factors may be accelerating the crisis; research indicates, for instance, Internet and social media engagement exacerbate feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
  • Of particular note, health risks associated with loneliness and social isolation are comparable to the dangers of smoking and obesity, increasing mortality risk by up to 30%.

Why is The UnLonely Project so timely?

First, because the problem of loneliness is worrisome and growing, with an urgent need to move past the silence and stigma that prevents us from fully acknowledging its significance,

Second,  provocative research indicates that creative arts expression, with its ability to engage us and connect us, shows great promise in reducing isolation, fostering improvement in health outcomes.