San Mateo County breaks ground by declaring loneliness a public health crisis

Supervisor Canepa calls on state to create Minister of Loneliness position

REDWOOD CITY – In a groundbreaking move, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Vice President, David J. Canepa, spearheaded a historic resolution declaring loneliness a public health crisis. The county has become the first in the nation to take such a decisive step in recognizing the profound impact of loneliness on the well-being of its residents.

As part of this initiative, Supervisor Canepa is advocating for the establishment of a Minister of Loneliness position within the state of California, aligning with successful models implemented in the United Kingdom and Japan.

Supervisor Canepa emphasized the urgency of tackling loneliness and its potential to lead vulnerable individuals towards homelessness, citing the recent one-day homeless count in the county as evidence. He stated, “Loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection can have profound health impacts. While there may be no cure, there are tangible ways we can make a difference by extending love, support, and genuine help to our neighbors, older adults, and families.”

Drawing attention to the alarming fact that loneliness can have health consequences equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, Canepa stressed the need for statewide action. He urged the state of California to follow the lead of the United Kingdom and Japan by establishing a Minister of Loneliness.

The recent Surgeon General Advisory issued by Dr. Vivek Murthy further underscores the severity of the loneliness crisis, emphasizing its profound impact on mental, physical, and societal health. In San Mateo County alone, 45% of residents reported experiencing difficulty with isolation and loneliness, with certain demographic groups facing heightened challenges in accessing social support networks.

Supervisor Canepa’s bold resolution sets the stage for broader discussions on the role of government in addressing social isolation, mental health, and fostering stronger community bonds. As the nation watches, San Mateo County stands at the forefront of a transformative movement to prioritize mental health and well-being for all.

(Supervisor Canepa’s Office Release)

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