Social Connection and Well-Being in the African American Community

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Jacki Hecht, MSN, RN, managing director of the Center for Health Equity Research and the African American Mental Health and Wellness Program was interviewed by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health discussing how her work addresses social connection and well-being in the African American community. Read the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health blog post "The Loneliness Epidemic."

Ms. Hecht shares that loneliness has been on the rise worldwide since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Humans are naturally social beings and many individuals had to break their social routines and distance themselves from their loved ones. Increased loneliness has become a major public health concern and is associated with other mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, fear, and uncertainty. The magnified loneliness has had a significant impact on health, well-being, and longevity. 

As human beings, it is natural to feel lonely at times. However, loneliness becomes problematic when it persists and becomes more difficult to separate oneself from feelings of loneliness. Physical health and mental health are closely interconnected with one another, so it is important to care about both equally. 

Feelings of loneliness can increase as one gets older because it can be more difficult to organically start quality relationships. Connecting with others virtually or in-person can be a strong way to form quality relationships with others to combat loneliness. Additionally, being aware of one’s personal needs can be helpful with determining what type of quality relationships one is looking for. It is important to recognize your own signs and symptoms of loneliness and recognize it as a feeling. Giving yourself permission to feel lonely is part of the healing process, and shifting the focus to look at the bigger picture can be helpful for practicing gratitude. 

If you are currently experiencing feelings of loneliness, remember that you are not alone. Listening to music, spending time outside, deep breathing, and practicing good sleep habits can also be helpful for overcoming feelings of loneliness. Reaching out to someone else can begin the process to surpass lonely feelings. 

Read the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health blog post "The Loneliness Epidemic."

You can listen to the podcast by downloading it to your phone using a podcast app (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc.). Click here to access the Episode 154: The Loneliness Epidemic's Apple link.