Social isolation is a state in which a person lacks a sense of belonging, isn’t engaging with others, and has few social connections and quality relationships. Social connections help give our lives purpose and meaning. When we have family, friends, and coworkers to celebrate and commiserate with, and when we feel part of our communities, we live longer, healthier lives.
There is a wealth of literature illustrating the importance of social support and connection in improving health and other outcomes at the individual and community level, and the World Health Organization, along with the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Healthy People 2020 initiative, identify social support and good social relations as key determinants of health and well-being.
The Project for Public Spaces asserts that social support—friends, family, and other community networks—helps individuals to meet emotional and practical needs. Belonging to a strong social network that requires communication and mutual obligation makes people feel cared for and valued. Research has shown that people who feel a stronger sense of belonging to their local community tend to live healthier lives and have fewer mental health challenges than those who lack emotional connection. Indeed, many studies indicate that a sense of belonging to one’s community has a strong impact on health behavior change— the stronger the sense of belonging, the more likely people were to exercise, lose weight or eat more healthily.
The sociability of a place also impacts safety and crime. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Healthy People 2020 initiative identifies crime and violence as key underlying factors in determining the health of a neighborhood or built environment.
We want to support the community in promoting and enhancing meaningful social relationships and work to increase social connectedness across all stages and ages of life.