April 12, 2021
Loneliness a threat to health
Māori were the most likely to report feeling lonely most or all of the time, while Pākeha and Pacific peoples were least likely to feel lonely, according to a new report.
Still Alone Together was prepared by the Helen Clark Foundation and strategic advisory firm WSP.
Author Holly Walker says self-reported loneliness increased immediately after the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown, but largely reverted to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2020.
Groups already at risk were severely affected and remained so by the end of the year, including the unemployed, low-income earners, single parents, young people, recent migrants, Māori and disabled people.
Ten percent of disabled people reported feeling lonely most or all of the time, four times as many as the non-disabled population.
Ms Walker says the findings highlight the unequal impact of the pandemic.
She says short periods of loneliness are normal but, when experienced consistently and for a prolonged period, it can have profound negative consequences for health and wellbeing.
The report recommends the Government Implement an effective guaranteed minimum income for all New Zealanders to enable everyone to live with dignity, close the digital divide by making high-speed internet access standard in all social housing tenancies and a standard feature of government-funded disability support programmes, and continue to invest in community-led development.
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