California’s San Mateo County becomes the 1st to recognise loneliness as public health emergency in US

Getting ‘the blues’ may be pushed aside as something trivialising elsewhere, but not in San Mateo County of California. This US county has now become the first one to have declared loneliness a public health emergency.

County of San Mateo, California, is now the first county in US to have officially declared loneliness a health epidemic. (Facebook / County of San Mateo – Government )

Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, the county’s Board of Supervisors sat down to a unanimous vote on Tuesday, officially recognising the issue as a health crisis. With the declaration now in place, the county will reach out for different ways to tackle it. While no funds have been announced to deal with the crisis yet, this move will work as an official conversation starter for it to be addressed.

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About San Mateo County’s vote to declare loneliness a health emergency

The Board of Supervisors’ VP, David Canepa, highlighted that this development will promote validating the residents’ experiences. Further in his statement, he opened up about how this will assist in getting “people out of the corners”, in addition to reminding them that they’re not alone.

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Canepa added that this measure came as a follow-up inspired consequence of the UK and Japan appointing national ministers for the crisis. Surgeon General Dr Vivek Murthy, who released his advisory on the matter in May to emphasise the importance of social connection, also took to his X (formerly Twitter) profile on February 2 to applaud the county’s initiative.

Dr Murthy had also highlighted that though the problem had existed in the country for decades, it had only worsened during the COVID pandemic. Canepa also took into account the large section of older residents who were subjected to severe isolation during the pandemic.

Taking yet another progressive step forward, Canepa is also addressing a letter to the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom. In this letter, he extends his hope for a new ministerial post to be created as well for this epidemic to be dealt with on a bigger scale in addition to the county-wide stance.

Its approval would be a positive step in the direction of tackling overall mental health. The county’s decision is just the first step in the right direction.

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