A social cure for better health

12 March 2020

Loneliness and isolation are linked to poor physical and mental health.

Studies have found that social disconnection poses a greater health threat than smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise.

In addition to being a factor in the development of mental health conditions such as depression, psychosis, and social anxiety, loneliness increases the risk of premature death by around 30 per cent.

Research also indicates that one in three adults over 45 years of age and 60 per cent of all adults often report feeling lonely.

The relationships we have with social groups — such as family, friendship, community, work, arts-based, sporting and other interest groups — influence our health in both positive and negative ways.

Yet while there is a wealth of evidence that shows losing valued social groups can have detrimental effects on a person’s health, practitioners haven’t had clear guidelines to deal with the adverse health effects of such loss and the social isolation that can come with it.

Until now.

In recent years, a program that reduces loneliness, depression and anxiety caused by social disconnection has been developed by a team of UQ researchers.

Led by Professors Catherine Haslam and Alex Haslam from UQ’s School of Psychology, the team has drawn on their combined expertise across the fields of social, clinical, health, organisational and neuro-psychology to develop a program to help people who are vulnerable to social isolation and disconnection.

Visit the UQ Research Impact website to read the full story of GROUPS 4 HEALTH (G4H), an evidence-based intervention that directly targets the psychological distress that results from loneliness and social isolation.

Read the full story on Research Impact