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Wellbeing and loneliness: six ways to counter it

Updated: May 22, 2021

I had an unexpected day in the office - alone - yesterday. So I decided to tune into a webinar. And I'm glad I did.

As an extreme extrovert (on one survey I score 29 out of 30 on the extrovert scale) I've become interested in loneliness as a policy issue. The webinar was run by the Helen Clark Foundation and the Australia Institute.

Holly Walker, former MP and now Deputy Director of the Foundation, presented some great evidence and also six key policy approaches to counter loneliness. (By the way it shortens people's lives.)

So who are the lonely groups in Aotearoa? People on very low incomes, the unemployed, Māori, young people aged under 24, single parents, and some older people, particularly those living alone. The young age group surprised me.

So, what to do? Here are the Foundation's six proposed policies:

  1. Make sure people have enough money: being poor is isolating.

  2. Close the digital divide: get people online. (Not the total answer, but part of it.)

  3. Help communities do their magic: support community organisations - they bring people together.

  4. Create friendly streets and neighbourhoods.

  5. Invest in frontline mental health services.

  6. Prioritise people who are already lonely.

I think this is good stuff. It's not easy. Big stuff like this never is. Thanks Holly - keep up the good work.


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