MENTAL HEALTH: New body aims to tackle loneliness and social isolation

6 April 2018
By Mary Bermingham
mary@TheCork.ie

Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North West, Aindrias Moynihan is encouraging people across Cork to engage with the newly established Loneliness Taskforce to help tackle the epidemic of loneliness and social isolation.

The Taskforce, which is the brainchild of Fianna Fáil Senator Dr. Keith Swanick and Seán Moynihan from ALONE, aims to help increase awareness about the epidemic as well as coming up with a range of recommendations for government, state agencies and policy makers to try and tackle this growing problem.

Deputy Moynihan commented, “Loneliness and social isolation are two of the biggest health risks facing this country. It is the silent epidemic, which is sweeping across Ireland, and to date there has been a lack of a co-ordinated response to attempt to deal with it. My colleague, Senator Keith Swanick has been raising this issue for almost two years and through his work with various health and community groups has now set up the Loneliness Taskforce with Seán Moynihan from the ALONE charity.

“Loneliness not only impacts on a person’s mental health, it has physical manifestations too – in fact research shows that it can decrease life expectancy by up to 10 years. Social isolation is a serious problem in rural Ireland. As more and more people move into towns and cities, people who live in the countryside, and on their own, are at a higher risk.

“While many people associate loneliness with the older generation, the fact of the matter is that it doesn’t discriminate – young, old, rich or poor – everyone is at risk of experiencing loneliness or social isolation.

“I want to acknowledge the great work being done locally by a variety of organisations, and clearly there is a need for more work in this area.

“I want to pay tribute to Senator Swanick for establishing the Loneliness Taskforce – it’s a very worthwhile initiative, which has the potential to make a real difference. I would also encourage people to send in submissions or suggestions to help it form its policies and recommendations. People can get in touch via www.lonelinesstaskforce.com or by post to Dr. Keith Swanick, Chairperson of the Loneliness Taskforce, Seanad Éireann, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. You can also contact my own offices in Ballincollig and Macroom, and we will be happy to pass on any submissions,” concluded Moynihan.

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