America’s loneliness epidemic is getting worse, with three in five adults (61%) reporting they are lonely, a 7 percentage-point increase from 2018, according to Cigna’s 2020 Loneliness Index. These results come against the backdrop of a rising mental health crisis in America, with more than 46 million people living with a mental illness. In response, Cigna is taking action to help communities across the country do more sooner to help reduce risks of mental illness and improve mental well-being overall.
“The trends shaping how we work – increasing use of technology, more telecommuting and the always-on work culture – are leaving Americans more stressed, less rested, spending more time on social media, and less time with friends and family,” said David M. Cordani, President and Chief Executive Officer, Cigna. “For the business community, it is resulting in less engagement, less productivity and lower retention levels. To confront these issues at home and at work, we are helping people build stronger connections and driving deeper health engagement to improve overall well-being and vitality.”
As part of the findings, Cigna has taken a deeper dive into how loneliness is impacting Phoenix. Findings include:
• Phoenix residents are just as lonely as the national population (61%)
• But unlike Americans as a whole, Phoenix residents have not gotten much lonelier since 2018.
The survey revealed some alarming findings:
• The percentage of Phoenix residents who report sometimes or always feeling alone is up seven percentage points from 2018 (56% vs 49% in 2018), reflecting the national increase (52% vs 46% in 2018).
• Around half of Phoenix residents report sometimes feeling isolated from others (51%), that they are no longer closer to anyone (49%) or that their relationships are not meaningful (49%). These numbers have increased dramatically, by 10-12 percentage points, since 2018.
• Employed Phoenix residents are less likely than other Americans to say they often feel alienated by their coworkers (20% in Phoenix, 29% nationally).
• Nearly half (48%) of Phoenix residents agree that technology in the workplace helps establish meaningful connections to their coworkers (60% nationally).
• Thirty-seven percent of Phoenix residents reported a fair/poor work-life balance, an eight-percentage-point difference to other Americans (28%).
DATA SHOWS A CLEAR CONNECTION BETWEEN WORK AND LONELINESS
The average American employee spends 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime2 and the new Cigna study shows a clear connection between work and loneliness. The full report, which includes a robust analysis of loneliness by demographics, industry and geographies, is available at cigna.com/CombattingLoneliness. Key findings include:
• Three in five Americans (61%) report that they are lonely
• Loneliness has a larger impact on certain demographics
• Men are slightly lonelier than women
• Younger people (18-22) are lonelier than older people (72+)
• Those living in urban and suburban communities are less lonely than those in rural areas
• Social media has a major impact on loneliness with very heavy social media users significantly more likely to feel alone, isolated, left out and without companionship
• Loneliness has implications for the business community
• Lonely workers say they are less engaged, less productive and report lower retention rates
• They are twice as likely to miss a day of work due to illness and five times more likely to miss work due to stress
• 12% of lonely workers say they believe their work is lower quality than it should be
• Lonely workers say they think about quitting their job more than twice as often as non-lonely workers
• Remote workers are more likely than non-remote workers to always or sometimes feel alone
CIGNA TAKES ACTION
To combat the rise of loneliness and improve mental health at home, in the workplace and in our schools, Cigna is taking several steps to help alleviate this multi-faceted issue. These include:
• Redefining and broadening the services available to address and deliver support for mental health needs.
• Expanding access to its comprehensive network of more than 170,000 mental and behavioral health care providers3 who are dedicated to helping customers improve their well-being and navigate issues like loneliness, stress, depression, anxiety and addiction. Cigna is also creating preferred provider networks to target areas of the country where the behavioral provider industry faces a significant supply and demand issue.
• Making it easier and quicker for customers to schedule appointments and meet with mental health specialists virtually through its own broad network of 18,000 virtual providers and through an expanded partnership with MDLIVE. Virtual care helps customers overcome stigma, scheduling and accessibility barriers, while giving people peace of mind, privacy and convenience.
• Creating a path forward for future generations, Cigna is partnering with clients and school districts in select areas to provide a School Support Line for junior high or high school (grade 7-12) students, staff and parents for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. The dedicated phone line will be provided at no charge and will be staffed by Cigna advocates who are trained in how to interact with students, parents and staff.
The Cigna Foundation is also committing $3 million over three years to support mental well-being in schools, as part of our broader $25 million Healthier Kids for Our Future initiative. “With funding from the Cigna Foundation, we will help schools – and the communities that support them – combat increasingly prevalent mental health issues, such as loneliness and social isolation, anxiety, depression, bullying and violence, and better equip them with tools and resources to promote interpersonal connectivity, social support and resiliency,” said John Murabito, President of the Cigna Foundation and Executive Vice President of Cigna.
ABOUT THE 2020 LONELINESS INDEX
The 2020 Loneliness Index surveyed more than 10,400 adults (age 18+) and is based on the UCLA Loneliness Scale, a 20-item questionnaire developed to assess self-reporter, subjective feelings of loneliness or social isolation. According to the scale, loneliness is measured by a score of 43 or higher. The survey was developed with Daniel Russell, Ph.D., Founder of the UCLA Loneliness Index, and conducted in partnership with Ipsos. It included a 20-item questionnaire and has a credibility index of ±1.1 percentage points.
Further analysis of Cigna’s 2018 Loneliness Index was published in the peer-reviewed clinical publication, American Journal of Health Promotion and was just recently named an Editors’ Pick for Paper of the Year by the journal.