This International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating some of the brilliant women who have brought the world’s attention to the devastation of loneliness.
The wonderful late Jo Cox, who set up the first loneliness commission to turbo-charge public understanding and policy response to the “giant evil” issue; Julianne Holt-Lunstad, who showed loneliness was worse than heavy smoking; and Michelle Lim, our leading academic on the subject and keynote speaker at Be Someone For Someone's launch in 2019 are just three of the women have inspired us all to end loneliness for the millions who suffer in our own backyard.
Jo Cox was a UK MP who campaigned for many important issues, including loneliness. In June 2016, on her way to meet with her constituents, she was murdered for her beliefs. But the reaction to her death around the world showed how widely held her beliefs are. The Jo Cox Foundation works to continue her legacy and also set up The Jo Cox Loneliness Commission, and it was their report in 2017 that led to the British Government appointing the world’s first Minister For Loneliness, Tracey Crouch MP, just months later.
"I am privileged to be taking forward the remarkable work done by Jo Cox, the Foundation and the Commission. I am sure that with the support of volunteers, campaigners, businesses and my fellow MPs from all sides of the House, we can make significant progress in defeating loneliness." - Tracey Crouch MP, Former Loneliness Minister
Read more about Jo and her legacy here https://www.jocoxfoundation.org/.
Dr Julianne Holt-Lunstad is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University; an adjunct professor at Swinburne University of Technology; Melbourne, Australia; and the chair of the scientific advisory committee for the U.S. Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness.
Dr Holt-Lunstad’s research is focused on understanding the long-term health effects, biological mechanisms, and effective strategies to mitigate risk and promote protection associated with social connection. Her work has been seminal in the recognition of social isolation and loneliness as risk factors for early mortality. She serves as a scientific advisor and consults regularly for organisations across sectors aimed at addressing this issue. She has provided expert testimony in a US Congressional Hearing, expert recommendations for the US Surgeon General Emotional Well-Being in America Initiative, served as a member of the UK Cross Departmental Loneliness Team, and a member of a National Academy of Sciences consensus committee.
Dr Michelle Lim is a Senior Lecturer and Clinical Psychologist at the Iverson Health Innovation Research Institute, and Centre for Mental Health at Swinburne University of Technology. Dr Lim is the head of the Social Health and Wellbeing (SHAW) Laboratory. The main aim of the SHAW laboratory is to generate rigorous research related to loneliness across the lifespan. Specifically, the aim of the research is to develop and design evidence-based and consumer relevant interventions that can effectively target loneliness.
Dr Lim is the Scientific Chair and Chairperson for Ending Loneliness Together, a national Australian charity led by a coalition of universities and industry partners. She is considered the leading Australian expert in loneliness, with more than 90 national media appearances to date. Dr Lim also provides consultation to not for profit organisations and government. She has also written online articles for The Conversation, which generated high readership close to a million readers globally. Example is The deadly truth about loneliness.