Pandemic may help destigmatize loneliness

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to force people around the world to isolate from family and friends, Jeremy Nobel, lecturer on global health and social medicine in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, wants to increase “loneliness literacy.”

Nobel, who teaches a course on loneliness and public health during the School’s Winter Session, is founder of the nonprofit Foundation for Art & Healing, which has promoted using art as a way to find solace during the pandemic.

Nobel hopes that the fact that more people than ever are feeling lonely will help destigmatize the feeling, he said in a November 18, 2020 interview with NextAvenue, a non-profit journalism website produced by PBS. The site named Nobel one of its 2020 Influencers in Aging.

He encourages people who are feeling lonely to get curious about it and use their feelings as a jumping-off point of discovery. However, he said that those whose loneliness is causing them to struggle and abuse substances should not feel ashamed to ask for help.

“Take care of yourself, and don’t let your negative self-assessments and your negative self-conversations around loneliness keep you from getting whatever help and assistance you may need,” Nobel said. Noting that more than 50% of people say that they are lonely, he said, “You have a lot of company, so maybe you’re not as alone as you think.”

Read NextAvenue article: Dr. Jeremy Nobel Believes It’s Okay to Say ‘I’m Lonely’

Learn more

Op-ed: A call to combat loneliness (Harvard Chan School news)