A Message from Proof Positive’s Chief Wellbeing Officer in Response to the Surgeon General’s Loneliness Advisory

 Social connection is as critical to humanity as food, water, or shelter. Some of us feel hungry and grab a snack or thirsty and reach for our water bottles; others are left starving and dehydrated. The same is true with loneliness – for some, loneliness is an internal signal that reminds us to call a friend. Yet, for others, it is persistent, isolating, and leads to devastatingly poor health outcomes.

We are grateful that the Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, has laid a framework to address the “epidemic of loneliness.” He states that “given the profound consequences of loneliness and isolation, we have an opportunity, and an obligation, to make the same investments in addressing social connection that we have made in addressing tobacco use, obesity, and the addiction crisis.

The plan presents six pillars of work to be done and a genuine commitment to change – enhancing infrastructure that promotes connection, reconsidering our relationship with technology, and encouraging individuals to take small steps to connect. That’s where you come in…

Research shows that social connection promotes physical and psychological health. If you have 15 minutes to call an old friend, walk around the block with a neighbor, or go out back and toss a ball around with your kids, do it. You might just get a boost of positivity, prevent an illness, or save a life.

At Proof Positive: Autism Wellbeing Alliance, we are committed to using the science and skills of Positive Psychology to address this public health crisis, particularly for those with autism. A dear mentor and renowned Positive Psychology professor, Dr. Chris Peterson, was famous for summing up the study of human flourishing in three words – OTHER PEOPLE MATTER.

For too long, the autism community has been left out of the wellbeing movement and its proven benefits to society, even as organizations and businesses ever increase their focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA). 

The fact is, people with autism and other disabilities are far more likely to experience  loneliness, depression, and anxiety, as studies show they experience “increased feelings of both social and emotional loneliness compared to neurotypical peers” (Bauminger et al. 2003), and there are “significant associations between loneliness and depression (Han et al., 2019; Hedley et al., 2018a, b) and anxiety (Schiltz et al., 2020) in autistic individuals.” 

We are ensuring those with autism are considered and included in “the movement to mend the social fabric of our nation.” We believe we must connect to build a world where WELLBEING WINS. 

Join us and learn the science and skills that promote social connection so that you can be a part of the solution to end loneliness. 

Be well,

Katie Curran, Chief Wellbeing Officer at Proof Positive

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