Loneliness is an epidemic in Memphis and across the country.
Health insurance giant Cigna issued its findings of a national survey Tuesday and said loneliness is “at epidemic levels in America.” Of the 20,000 people surveyed for the study, nearly half of Americans said they sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent). At least a third of Memphians reported feelings of loneliness.
“We’re seeing a lack of human connection, which ultimately leads to a lack of vitality – or a disconnect between mind and body,” said Cigna CEO David M. Cordani in a statement. “We must change this trend by reframing the conversation to be about ‘mental wellness’ and ‘vitality’ to speak to our mental-physical connection. When the mind and body are treated as one, we see powerful results.”
Among the major findings in the report, more young people reported being lonely than their older counterparts.
“In fact, more than half of Gen Zers (adults ages 18-22) identify with 10 of the 11 feelings associated with loneliness,” reads the report. “Feeling like people around them are not really with them (69 percent), feeling shy (69 percent), and feeling like no one really knows them well (68 percent) are among the most common feelings experienced by those in the Generation Z.”
However, reports of loneliness subsided among older generations. Only 38 percent of those surveyed from the Greatest Generation (adults aged 72 plus) reported feelings of loneliness. They reported higher rates of feeling they had people to talk to, being part of a group of friends, feeling outgoing and friendly, and more.
Those older than Gen Z or Millennials might think the answer to their loneliness lies in the non-stop, FOMO-inducing social media networks. But researchers found that social media use was not a predictor of loneliness.
”Levels of in-person interactions, physical and mental wellness and life balance are more likely to predict loneliness than social media usage,” reads the study. “For instance, those respondents defined as very heavy users of social media have a loneliness score (43.5) that is not markedly different from the score of those who never use social media (41.7).
Lonely in Memphis
The lonely rates in Memphis roughly matched national statistics. Half (50 percent) of the Memphians surveyed said they sometimes or always feel that no one really knows them well.
Here are some other Memphis responses to the survey:
• 47 percent of Memphis residents say they sometimes or always feel left out.
• 43 percent of Memphis residents say they sometimes or always feel that their relationships with others are not meaningful.
• 42 percent of Memphis residents say they sometimes or always feel isolated from others.
• 40 percent of Memphis residents report sometimes or always feeling alone.
• 22 percent of Memphis residents say they rarely or never feel close to people.
• Three out of ten (30 percent) Memphis residents say they rarely or never feel like there are people who really understand them.
The survey and report were based on the Loneliness Scale from the University of California at Los Angeles. Memphians (and others) were scored on daily in-person interactions, friendships and relationships, social lives, family lives, work/life balance, sleep, health, and more.
“Looking ahead, Cigna will use the survey findings to build on our efforts to address the loneliness epidemic and improve people’s overall mental wellness and vitality,” the company said in a statement. “We are calling upon other like-minded companies to join in the fight to address the epidemic.”