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Daly City council approves resolution declaring loneliness a public health crisis

Loneliness epidemic
Loneliness epidemic 03:37

DALY CITY – Officials in Daly City are calling attention to the negative health effects associated with social isolation, by approving a resolution declaring loneliness a public health crisis in the community on the Peninsula.

At its meeting Monday night, the city council unanimously approved the measure, which acknowledges, "the importance of addressing loneliness and isolation as a critical public health concern in the City of Daly City, County of San Mateo, recognizing that social connection is essential for the health and well-being of our residents."

"Daly City is committed to begin taking steps as a unified community to build stronger social connections by cultivating a culture of connection and fostering a culture that promotes positive everyday interactions and norms to enhance relationships," the city said in a statement.  

City officials cited a report by Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, which found loneliness to have a detrimental effect on health comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

"It leads to poor health outcomes including an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, depression, and a higher likelihood of premature death," officials said.

The city also noted that older immigrants are particularly susceptible to loneliness. 

More than half of Daly City's residents are foreign born. Almost 20% of the city's population are 65 years or older, a group larger than the population cohort of children under 18.

"Daly City is a diverse community and home to many residents who have come from all over the world," Mayor Juslyn C. Manalo said. "We cannot ignore the statistics—loneliness exists in our City. Declaring loneliness a public health crisis brings awareness and opens up new opportunities to collaborate and partner with the County, as well as local non-profit organizations."  

The resolution also cited San Mateo County figures which found 45% of residents in the county expressing that they are finding difficulty with isolation and loneliness. Earlier this month, the county became the first in the nation to declare loneliness as a public health emergency.

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