Lt. Governor Bysiewicz and Governor Lamont announce Social Connection Campaign to combat loneliness and social isolation in Connecticut
HARTFORD, Conn. - Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz and Governor Ned Lamont, with agency commissioners and advocates, have announced the launch of a new campaign focused on combatting loneliness and social isolation in Connecticut.
“As a nation and a state, we are seeing an epidemic of loneliness and isolation. The health impacts of this epidemic are very real – they are so significant and so widespread that the U.S. Surgeon General has put social isolation and loneliness on the same level as public health crises like tobacco addiction, AIDS, drunk driving, obesity, and gun violence.” said Lt. Governor Bysiewicz. “We've seen recent efforts emerging to address this crisis, and today marks an important next step in exploring how we, as a state, can best address this issue.”
Inspired by the work of U.S. Senator Chris Murphy and a recent advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General, the Social Connection Campaign will:
- Facilitate collaboration on an inter-agency basis to identify opportunities to foster greater social connection.
- Raise awareness of existing and new efforts by State Agencies that improve social connection.
- Work with partners beyond state government (federal, municipal, nonprofit, private, grassroots orgs and the public) to identify gaps, opportunities, and ideas related to improving social connection.
“The Connecticut Department of Public Health is proud to be a part of the Social Connection Campaign and its mission of addressing the concerns of loneliness and isolation,” said Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD. “There are several public health issues that are exacerbated by isolation. Some of these include chronic diseases, suicide and gun violence, children and adults with special health care needs, pregnant women who do not have access to proper pre-natal care, and the lack of proper eating habits and physical activity.”
“Fostering social connections and a sense of meaningful participation in the community is a very important part of recovery from mental health and substance use disorders. DMHAS has a strong tradition of focusing on social connectedness; creating opportunities for relationship building through peer supports, social rehabilitation programs, as well as hotlines and warmlines. Outreach to older adults, and other populations who may experience barriers to building social supports, offers a bridge which decreases isolation and encourages emotional well-being,” said Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) Commissioner Nancy Navarretta.
“We know that older adults and people with disabilities face disproportionate barriers to connecting with others,” said Aging and Disability Services (ADS) Commissioner Amy Porter. “We commend the Lieutenant Governor for establishing a Social Connection Campaign to establish increased focus on and fortify social connection and community in an equitable manner across Connecticut.”
“Social connection is vital to a person’s well-being and is part of our human nature. Connecticut’s Social Connection Campaign another bold step to tackling this problem,” said Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Andrea Barton Reeves.
“The importance of social connections is particularly significant for Veterans and their families as many struggle with integrating back into their community when returning home from deployment,” said Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) Commissioner Ronald P. Welch.
“As part of the Social Connection Campaign, the CSDE is pleased to join Governor Lamont, Lt. Governor Bysiewicz, agency commissioners, and leaders across the state, in continuing our commitment to address loneliness and social isolation in the context of education,” Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker said. “The recent Surgeon General’s report on the Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation underscores the importance of student engagement. Through home visits and check ins, the Governor's Learner Engagement and Attendance Program is one initiate that focuses on establishing trust with families, removing attendance barriers, improving feelings of belonging, and reengaging students in school.”
"Loneliness is unique to each individual. Just because our friend or loved one presents as 'having it together' does not mean they aren't in need of social connection. That's why, when it comes to youth in our care, we take the approach of relentless engagement to let them know that they have loving, caring adults in their lives no matter what," said Jodi Hill-Lilly, Department of Children and Families (DCF) Commissioner Designate.
Other agencies and groups that will participate in the campaign include: the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), the Department of Housing (DOH), the Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity, and Opportunity (CWCSEO), and the CT Collaborative to End Loneliness.
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, February 6, 2024
Contact: Sam Taylor