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Despite loneliness epidemic, the stigma surrounding mental health is lessening

Published: Monday, May 22, 2023 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, May 22, 2023 - 9:00am

Loneliness is a growing epidemic. It can lead to poor mental health outcomes and it can even be deadly, according to a recent U.S. Surgeon General’s report. But there might be a silver lining in all of this. 

The U.S. surgeon general says loneliness poses health risks as deadly as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. Seeking out connection is potentially life saving, so is accessing mental health care. 

Shawn Hatch, the regional vice president for Spectrum Health Care Group, says in the past, stigma often prevented some from getting help for things like depression or anxiety. That seems to be changing even among one hard to reach demographic. 

"Seniors in particular have always been in a demographic that's less likely to seek services because of stigma. And and and so I think with the reduction of stigma, you've just seen more people in general seeking services," Hatch said. 

Which is good, but she says there’s a significant workforce shortage and that can make it difficult to get help. 

Science Aging Health + Medicine