If You’re Feeling Lonely, You’re Not Alone – Day #30

In 2018, Cigna conducted a survey that revealed loneliness at “epidemic levels” in the U.S. Why is a health insurance company concerned with loneliness?

It’s been proven that feelings of isolation, loneliness, and lack of social connection impact our health and wellbeing. Humans are social animals and while we are continually told to eat right, exercise, and get sleep – all things important to our wellbeing – how often does your doctor say, “do you have friends and family that you hang out with on a regular basis?”

Cigna’s survey on loneliness is chock full of stunning results, such as:

  • Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent).
  • Only around half of Americans (53 percent) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.
  • Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) is the loneliest generation and claims to be in worse health than older generations.

At MHC, understanding the importance of social connection is core to what we do. “Community” is the fourth pillar of recovery (home, health, purpose are the first three). Helping our program participants actively engage with others is key to helping them achieve long-term health and wellness.

In West Hartford, MHC runs Robinson House, one of the only residential programs in the U.S. for Deaf/Hard of Hearing individuals who also have co-occurring mental health challenges. “Deaf Rec” is a unique program run by Robinson House Staff and MHC program participants designed to break the chains of social isolation. This program has been funded by The Hartford for the past four years.

“Deaf Rec is the only opportunity that most of these Deaf folks have to make new friends. Full access to communication in a recreational setting is so rare for Deaf, so this opportunity is tremendously appreciated and valued by our members,” Amelia Saunders, co-coordinator of Deaf Rec and Director of MHC’s Robinson House.

Deaf Rec is a social club for adults of all ethnicities (age range is mid-20s to early 60s) who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and living primarily in Greater Hartford. Being Deaf can be extremely isolating. The goal of Deaf Rec is to engage people who are deaf in community-based, recreational activities that promote community integration, the establishment of natural supports and friendships, and a degree of comfort with navigating the hearing world. When Deaf Rec launched, the program aimed to serve 50 people. We have reached, and exceeded, that goal.

“We have new people showing up all the time now, so our regulars are meeting new people. What has worked well is providing a free monthly activity where Deaf can gather, for this population who could not, otherwise, afford the recreation activities. We were recently contacted by a Deaf man who is trying to reintegrate into the Deaf community after many years in a controlled environment. He was thrilled to learn about Deaf Rec and signed up for the year.”

How do you work on staying connected with friends and your community? Use the hashtag #31DaysofWellness and tag us at @mentalhealthCT on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

For more information on Deaf Rec, contact DeafRec@gmail.com or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/deafrec.