Loneliness is underestimated in the UK. Is it in Australia?
The social prescribing phenomenon is not just about medical intervention, it is about ensuring that people belong to social groups in what is now an epidemic of loneliness in the UK.
A key example of social prescribing can be found in the UK charity The Bromley by Bow Centre. The Centre links GPs with social services and social groups www.bbbc.org.uk/health-centres/bromley-by-bow-health-centre/. Social isolation is associated with a 29% rise in mortality, according to a report published in the 2015 edition of Perspectives on Psychological Science. The UK Office for National Statistics estimates that 2.4 million adult Britons of all ages suffer from chronic loneliness.
The UK Cox Commission, set up to study loneliness after the murder of MP Jo Cox, estimates 9 million Britons suffer from chronic loneliness, significantly above the figure provided by the Office for National Statistics. No equivalent statistical collection is available in Australia at present.
The RACGP is familiar with the problems of loneliness and UK work on social prescribing.