Loneliness & Connection
What’s Happening Now
Loneliness and social isolation have been top of mind for many of us during the pandemic. Our very basic human need for connection with family, loved ones, and community members can feel at odds with physical distancing, avoiding gatherings, and stay-at-home orders. But a growing body of literature suggests that loneliness has long been pervasive, both here in the United States and globally, even before the pandemic.
Vivek Murthy, 19th and 21st Surgeon General of the United States, documents a pandemic of loneliness in his most recent book Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World. Murthy details three types of loneliness: intimate, relational, and collective loneliness, asserting that the cure must be tailored to each type. While loneliness at its core is an adaptive human emotion that leads us to seek connection and form communities in its extremes, it decreases our quality of life and insidiously can lead to even more loneliness.
The good news is that with awareness about what loneliness is and what causes it we can find creative ways to reconnect and build resilience. The first step is the recognition that human connection is as critical to our well-being as food and water.
This graphic was created to help visualize the interplay of isolation and connectedness. Each area includes some illustrative statements to help get a sense of where you most resonate.
What might you consider as you look at this model?
- There are healthy and unhealthy experiences of both connectedness and isolation.
- There is not a singular way of experiencing any of these; in fact, you may experience different paths at different points of the day.
- Your identities, cultural background, and personal history will influence how you think about connectedness and isolation. You’ll be in the best position to meet your own needs if you consider both your cultural/family lens and your individual boundaries.
Loneliness & Connection
The experience of loneliness can vary between people, but a common thread is the absence of sufficient connection with others and self.
Where you can go for support.
Connect at Stanford
RAs & CAs
These upper division students and graduate students who live in each residence want to listen and help. They are available whenever you have a problem and can provide valuable insights from their own Stanford experiences.
Stanford’s student run peer counseling center offers anonymous and confidential 24/7 counseling to members of the greater Stanford community. Peers are available to listen, explore feelings, help sort out issues and uncertainties, or just to talk.
Well-Being Coaches are experts in the change process and serve as skilled partners to help you make shifts in beliefs and behaviors to improve your overall well-being, or simply offer support when you’re struggling.
CAPS clinicians provide outreach and support in the form of short-term therapy, medical evaluation, or assistance with connecting students to community partners, providers or resources. CAPS also provides 24/7 crisis support, referral assistance, and workshops.
Seven community and cultural centers are available on campus and grounded in values of justice, equity, and belonging to empower you to be a bold collaborator and innovative leader with the most vulnerable in mind.
Weiland Health Initiative seeks to promote mental health and wellness across the spectrum of gender identities and sexual orientations through education, training, and clinical services at Stanford and beyond.
This office seeks to guide, nurture, and enhance spiritual and religious life by fostering space where all feel welcome, included, and represented. Spiritual counseling, including one-on-one support, is available.
Stay physically active by participating in a variety of recreation and wellness classes both at Stanford facilities and online.
This office houses and manages all the student organizations on campus: there are over 600. Joining an organization helps form a sense of community and belonging while building leadership skills for both new members to presidents and everything in between.