There's a rampant health issue in Britain that may be worse for one's health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and PM Theresa May has just appointed a person to address it. "For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life," May said in a statement, per the New York Times, which notes May has named a "minister of loneliness" to tackle the problem. Tracey Crouch will be responsible for setting up policies around this issue and working with other government officials in gauging national loneliness and determining how to address it. A 2017 study by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness found that more than 9 million Brits are "often or always lonely," with government research citing 200,000 older people in the UK who hadn't had a chat with a family member or friend in more than a month.
The commission was set up as a tribute to Cox, the Labour MP who was murdered by a white supremacist in 2016 and who'd pushed for initiatives in Parliament to study the loneliness dilemma. Experts agree it's a public health issue, and May says older people and those who've watched loved ones die are particularly susceptible to having "no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with." The lawmakers who lead the commission, though, say new parents, the disabled, caregivers, and refugees are also vulnerable. "Young or old, loneliness doesn't discriminate," they note in a statement, quoting Cox, per the Times.