Published June 13, 2022
Worsened by the Covid-19 crisis, social isolation worries more and more French people. Age, illness, poverty, many factors contribute to this lack of social relations. These connections, however, are crucial for people, both mentally and physically, to the extent that they contribute to the good health of the individual. Social isolation is therefore, beyond individual danger, an important social issue to consider. We explain this to you.
For two years we were confined to one place of life, we were banned from ceremonies and forced to work remotely, Covid-19 indirectly participated in the social isolation of many French people. But the problem is not new. Millions of us suffer from this social disadvantage, which is still necessary for well-being and good health.
Age in the first place remains for now the main cause of social exclusion. The loss of autonomy and mobility contributes to a drastic reduction in the relationships of the elderly. But other factors are involved, or even added together, such as poverty, gender, access to employment, family situation, disability or addiction …
Still insufficient recognition
This social or relational isolation is still difficult to recognize, due to the lack of a precise and generalized definition at the institutional level. ” Social isolation is a situation in which a person finds himself in a situation of suffering and danger due to connections that are permanently insufficient in number or quality, proposes in the 2017 report the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE), Insufficient quality relations are those that produce denial of recognition, lack of security and difficult participation ”.
According to a survey commissioned by the Fondation de France, almost 14% of French people over the age of 15 are in a situation of isolation in relationships, or almost 7 million French people. A study by the Little Brothers of the Poor revealed in 2021 a “Alarming deterioration of the isolation situation of the elderly “People over the age of 60 in a situation of social isolation would increase from 300,000 people to 530,000 in just 4 years.
In addition to age, a link has been observed between economic insecurity and social isolation in the last ten years. Among low incomes, a third would suffer from loneliness. A spectrum of isolation that therefore extends to the entire population, especially young people, who are increasingly affected by insecurity.
The Inequality Observatory has warned of the growing impoverishment of young people aged 18 to 29, who were already much more affected than their older ones even before the health crisis. In 2021, 14% of them were affected by social isolation, compared to only 2% in 2010.
This chronic loneliness is therefore not just an individual problem, but the result of economic and social policy.
Social isolation brings with it complications, both mental and physical, that severely affect individuals and can lead to loss of income, depression, and even illness.
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that loneliness is a major health problem in the world. Among the three factors that worry the most health are the lack of emotional support from others, the lack of integration into the social network and tobacco consumption.
Of these three elements, two are directly related to social isolation. Lack of strong social ties and contacts (friend, close friends, family, colleagues) directly affects the immune system and mental health, making us more susceptible to diseases and infections. For example, it has been observed that older people with few friends have a higher risk of hypertension.
Social isolation is increasingly alarming in young children. Social contact actively contributes to good health in adulthood. A 2020 study published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences found that loneliness can have detrimental effects on neuronal function and brain plasticity, or the brain’s ability to reshape its connections, for example during learning. Isolation from an early age would therefore lead to physical and mental difficulties in adulthood.
Make social isolation a priority
Faced with this social problem, ESEC calls for greater support for social isolation. His exit includes the reintegration of individuals into circles of exchange and sharing through social, sporting, cultural and associative activities. To this end, the state, communities, environmental experts and associations have a role to play in encouraging the involvement of the population and supporting the autonomous creation of areas of activity.
The general impoverishment of social classes suggests, however, that social isolation goes beyond the simple lack of local dynamism. It is also a deep structural problem, both economic and social, for recognizing the dignity of individuals.
Picture of OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabaya
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