Briggs Says People in Lothian Can Take Individual Responsibility for Reducing Social Isolation

Today in Parliament Miles Briggs MSP highlights loneliness as one of the leading public health challenges in Scotland, with more than 100,000 older people in our country “chronically lonely.” Social isolation and loneliness have been shown to have a strong correlation with mental ill health. It is a key trigger of depression and low mood, and can be linked to a significant number of suicides, especially among more elderly members of our communities. Loneliness puts individuals at greater risk of cognitive decline and one recent academic study had indicated that lonely people have a 64% increased chance of developing clinical dementia.

Loneliness and social isolation can have a serious impact on our physical health as well as our mental health.  Recent research has shown that lacking social connections is as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Indeed, it is estimated that loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26%.

Miles Briggs praised a number of Edinburgh charities including Vintage Vibes, Contact the Elderly and Health in Mind, for all of the great work that they do.

Miles Briggs comments:

“Improving Scotland’s Mental Wellbeing is inextricably linked to tackling social isolation and we need to see the strategies on both these issues very closely aligned so that they complement and reinforce each other.

“As a Lothian MSP I shared the concern, and indeed surprise, of many fellow residents in Edinburgh when the Capital was described as the loneliest City in the UK in December as it was revealed more broadly that 60,000 people over the age of 65 in Scotland would be spending Christmas Day alone.

“While many groups and charities offer formal volunteering opportunities for members of the public, every single one of us can play a part in reducing social isolation by sometimes taking very small actions that can make a difference.

“This can include checking how an elderly neighbour is every now and then or asking them if they want to drop in for a coffee.”


Miles Briggs