Nov 1, 2021, 1:00 PM, Posted by Risa Wilkerson
Simple steps, guided by input from community members, can help reduce social isolation and improve health, well-being, and civic engagement.
What happens when young men and boys of color aren’t able to be themselves in any setting?
In San Diego, refugees from East Africa commonly experience discrimination, racism, and Islamophobia. Young men and boys, in particular, describe how they have to act one way in school, another way with friends outside of school, and another at home. It is important for the community to find ways to improve social connections, increase opportunities, and build resilience, since their social isolation can lead to unhealthy behaviors that put their health and futures at risk.
Social isolation—the lack of significant social connections interpersonally and within a community—is a “deeply consequential” public health crisis, according to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. He noted how “During my years caring for patients, the most common pathology I saw was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness.”
Indeed, the health risks of social isolation have been compared to those of smoking and obesity, and it is linked to depression, impaired immunity, increased suicidal tendencies, and increased risk of death.