The Corona pandemic has kept the world in suspense for more than two years. The spread of the virus can be temporarily restricted by observing the wearing of masks and isolation. But this medically positive effect also had serious side effects: Early on, psychologists and aid organizations warned of a dangerous increase in loneliness across all social classes.
The pandemic has made it clear once again that loneliness is also a disease – and a political issue. In Great Britain, as early as 2018 – when lockdowns were still science fiction and Corona was just a beer brand – the government presented a strategy that was unique in the world at the time in order to be able to combat the phenomenon of loneliness at the national level.
One notable achievement was the creation of the Ministry of Unity, whose primary mission was to build a network of help organizations, psychologists, and also private citizens who could tell their personal stories. Loneliness must be eliminated.
The British initiative gave an international example: at the height of the Corona crisis – and its alarm over the alarming increase in suicides – the Japanese government also appointed its own Minister of Unity in February 2021.
The political significance of the topic has been known for a long time
In Germany, too, the political significance of the topic has long been known. Early in 2019, the demand for a central office in the federal government flipped, and nearly all parties claimed the idea for themselves. However, the CDU’s initiative in the Berlin Senate for a state representative failed.
But Corona shuffled the cards. Almost all major democratic parties have identified unity as a relevant issue.
Federal Family Minister Lisa Bowes (Green Party) has now started a campaign. She declared that strategies should be put in place against loneliness in this legislative period. First of all, the topic should be closely studied from a political and scientific point of view.
It’s about preventing and combating loneliness. A conference was held on Tuesday with professionals from social work, research and charities.
Bose says loneliness is a diverse phenomenon that affects many people. “It’s often the older people among us whose partner has died, whose circle of friends has diminished or who are no longer able to move enough to leave the house.” But many young people have also known and experienced loneliness. This just came to light during the pandemic.
Create a central office?
Paus also noted current measures for isolated people, such as the Malteser Relief Service’s “Together for Each Other” program, through which elderly people are specifically reached at about 110 Catholic Relief sites. Nationwide, there are also about 530 publicly funded multigenerational homes intended to help prevent isolation and loneliness.
Can a central office be created after all?
Scholars like loneliness researcher Susan Booker would certainly welcome this: “I think appointing a unit officer at the federal level would have the advantage that loneliness can be discussed publicly more effectively; the topic is given some kind of address and house number,” said Bowker of the Catholic News Agency (KUNA) The unit commissioner can bring policy makers together and oblige them to consider all policy decisions to see how they can serve the goal of preventing and combating loneliness.
However, the psychologist stresses that it must be remembered that loneliness is an “interface problem” that must be considered across departments. So it affects health policy as well as the labor market and social policy. “It is therefore important that preventing and combating loneliness and the potential for social participation of all people are taken into account in a wide range of political issues and decision-making processes.”