Solving the Social Isolation and Loneliness Epidemic
Last week, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an advisory about the social isolation and loneliness epidemic, a true public health concern experienced throughout the country. In the report, Murthy said: “Given the profound consequences of loneliness and isolation, we have an opportunity, and an obligation, to make the same investments in addressing social connection that we have made in addressing tobacco use, obesity, and the addiction crisis.”
Startups are at the leading edge of solving key societal issues, and I’m lucky to learn about new bold-thinking companies from across the country each day. Well before the release of this report, I started to see an increase in new ventures tackling human loneliness. Given that “[US] stress-related absenteeism attributed to loneliness costs employers an estimated $154 billion annually,”(1) it’s no wonder startups are emerging to tackle this problem. The size of this market is enormous.
The report outlines the three vital components of social connection:
- Structure: the number, variety, and activity related to a person’s relationships and interactions with others
- Function: the degree to which a relationship serves a person’s needs
- Quality: the positives (and negatives) of a relationship in a person’s life
Three member companies at Embarc Collective are addressing the components of social connection in interesting ways:
- Krew Social: Helps to improve the structure of social connection and create engagement between individuals across a network, organization, or group to build deeper relationships and trust, thereby increasing satisfaction and retention. The relationship between individuals within an organization is becoming increasingly sparse – how well do you really know your co-working, apartment neighbor, or fellow churchgoer? Krew Social aims to help organizations foster friendship-making within their communities.
- Maka Social: The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and a more remote lifestyle have caused many to not know where and how to meet others. Maka Social supports the structure of social connection by providing the tools to make meeting people easier, essential for those of us navigating shyness and social anxiety.
- Pulse: Specifically focused on improving the function and quality of social connection by making it easy to remember those in your network and the context behind those relationships. With the tool, a person is able to be proactive and intentional about fostering individual relationships and social connections overall.
The lack of social connectedness has immense negative effects on a person, including both physical and mental health consequences. Embarc Collective member company Cope Notes is leading the charge in dealing with the mental health challenges that the lack of social connectedness can cause:
- Cope Notes: Through one text a day, Cope Notes helps people improve their mental and emotional health. The regular habit of being mindful of one’s mental health can lead to positive outcomes.
When being all-in on building a startup, the challenges of social connectedness and loneliness can be even more pronounced for an entrepreneur. That is why Embarc Collective has assembled a community of 125+ focused and driven startup teams to create a strong peer community. Being a part of a connected community delivers positive economic outcomes. According to the Surgeon General’s Advisory, “members of these connected communities are more likely to recommend job and educational opportunities to one another, collaborate on ideas for innovation, build partnerships for local businesses, and directly advance economic progress in their communities.”
Additionally, Embarc Collective keeps mental health maintenance top of mind by offering Wellness and Burnout Prevention coaching and programming to member startups with support from the Florida Blue Foundation. This helps ensure there is less taboo about openly discussing one’s mental health needs and clear ways to find connection with and support from fellow startups affiliated with Embarc Collective.
The Surgeon General’s Advisory demonstrated just how complex, intense, and pervasive social isolation and loneliness are across the United States. There is room for more problem solvers to bring new ideas to the table, like what the teams behind Krew Social, Maka Social, Pulse, and Cope Notes have done. If you are building a solution in this space and are Florida-based, join our peer community of focused, driven startup builders at Embarc Collective.