By Sanjukta Salgoankar
On Wednesday 1st March 2023 Ministers of Health and the chief medical officer encouraged older people to say “Hello Again World” as they launched the Social Connections campaign to address loneliness and isolation among older people.
According to the Press Release done by the Health Department, Stephen Donnelly, the Minister for Health; Mary Butler, Minister for Mental Health and Older People; Hildegarde Naughton, Minister for Public Health, Well-being and the National Drugs Strategy; and Professor Breda Smyth, Chief Medical Officer, have announced a multi-media campaign aimed at combatting isolation and loneliness among older people.
The campaign is called ‘Hello World’, which addresses the growing problem of loneliness.
The issue has been worsening by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, many older people have not re-established their social connections from the time they were asked to stay in their homes and not come out for safety.
The campaign aims to empower and motivate older people to positive about their health by re-engaging with their communities and increasing their social connections for better mental health.
Isolation and loneliness significantly impact mental health and are linked to multiple chronic health conditions.
According to CSO (Central Statistics Office) in 2020 the number of people who felt lonely most of the time in Ireland doubled between April and November. Almost half of the people aged over 70 and over were extremely concerned about maintaining social ties during the pandemic.
Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Health said:
“Reconnecting with others is so important for overall health and wellbeing. I know that older people, in particular, paid a high price during the pandemic as they were the first group that were asked to cocoon. Understandably, they may feel nervous about re-engaging socially but it’s a very positive step for health as it helps combat loneliness”.
Minister for Mental Health and Older People Mary Butler said:
“This campaign is especially aimed at older members of our society, who may have found themselves at great risk of loneliness and isolation over the past couple of years. They don’t have to continue feeling lonely, as there are so many opportunities to connect with others in communities around the country”.