The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly; Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler; Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Hildegarde Naughton; and the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Breda Smyth, have announced a new multi-media campaign called “Hello Again World” aimed at combatting loneliness and isolation among older people.
The campaign was created to address the growing problem of loneliness. The issue has been exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as many older people have not re-established their social connections since they were asked to cocoon for their safety.
Loneliness has a significant impact on physical and mental health and is linked to multiple chronic health conditions.
Supported by Healthy Ireland, the “Hello Again World” campaign aims to empower and motivate older people to do something positive for their health by re-engaging with their communities and increasing their social connections.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said, “reconnecting with others is so important for overall health and wellbeing. I know that older people, in particular, paid a high price during the pandemic as they were the first group that were asked to cocoon. Understandably, they may feel nervous about re-engaging socially but it’s a very positive step for health as it helps combat loneliness.”
“Communities around the country offer so many wonderful activities for older people and I’ve experienced first-hand the vibrant atmosphere that helps promote positive ageing. Today I’m encouraging them to make a healthy decision and reconnect with the world around them.”
Minister for Mental Health and Older People Mary Butler said, “this campaign is especially aimed at older members of our society, who may have found themselves at a great risk of loneliness and isolation over the past couple of years. They don’t have to continue feeling lonely, as there are so many opportunities to connect with others in communities around the country. We can all play our part in helping older people to feel more connected and encouraging them to get involved in enjoyable activities that help promote good health.”
Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Hildegarde Naughton said, “loneliness and isolation affect people of all ages and from all walks of life. The negative impact on physical and mental health should not be under-estimated. Equally, the positive effect of social connections needs to be appreciated, so we can all help spread the message that engaging with your community is the best thing you can do for your health today.”
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Breda Smyth said, “there are many behaviours that impact on the health challenges we face, and in taking steps to reduce loneliness we can help make a big difference to our physical and mental health and reduce our risk of chronic conditions. Socialising is good for us, and I’d like to reassure people that it is safe to do so while taking sensible precautions. If you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and take normal sensible precautions, you can be assured that you have a high level of protection, so you can safely enjoy social occasions and activities in your local community.”