Loneliness: Praise for health apps which offer social interaction
- Nearly half of all English adults (45%) report feeling lonely sometimes or often*
- Loneliness can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and worse for you than obesity**
Loneliness is not just a state of mind. It impacts all aspects of our life, from curtailing social interactions, changing our eating habits, working life and our ability to enjoy day-to-day activities that we once derived pleasure from. It can impact or make worse our physical health, as well as our mental health and wellbeing.
We need to give loneliness the attention it deserves, particularly at this time of year when those sufferers can experience it even more.
There are many forms of help available, including digital health apps.
ORCHA (the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps) has praised the many health app developers who now ensure their apps include opportunities for social interaction.
ORCHA has praised the following apps for recognising that social interaction is a vital part of managing our health and wellbeing:
We’d love to hear about your experiences. If you try one of the apps from our list below, please let us know on Twitter. Don’t forget to tag us @OrchaHealth and use our hashtag, #ORCHACertified.
Connect with patients who have had similar injuries/ experiences so that they can share learnings and model behaviour. ORCHA score 73%. Free. Available for Android and iOS.
BELONG: BEATING CANCER TOGETHER
Using Belong, you will find support groups for every type of cancer such as breast cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer and many more. You’ll also get assistance, tips, and support from a vast social network of others with cancer. ORCHA score 85%. Free. Available for Android and iOS.
Unite with local mums and mums-to-be in peer-group ‘pods’ of five to learn, share, forge friendships and navigate each week. ORCHA score 74%. In app purchases. Available for Android and iOS.
CALORIE COUNTER + (Nutracheck)
Easy to use calorie counter with access to the lively Nutracheck community and the chance to take part in weight loss challenges. ORCHA score 79%. In app purchases. Available for Android and iOS.
This is a social network and support group for parents of kids with autism. Get the emotional support you need from others like you, in a judgement-free space. ORCHA score 81%. Free. Available for iOS.
MeeToo is designed for people aged 11+ and age banding means you chat with people who are a similar age to you. You can ask anonymous questions about literally anything (the app is moderated) and realise you are not the only one struggling with a particular issue. ORCHA score 81%. Free. Available for iOS and Android.
ACTIVELY MOVING FORWARD
Connect to a national network for the support and empowerment you may need after a death loss. Through this app, you’ll be able to connect with others who understand the challenges of grief. ORCHA score 81%. Free. Available for iOS and Android.
Dr Lloyd Humphreys, clinical psychologist and managing director of ORCHA, said:
“We know that lockdown saw levels of loneliness increase*** and we now have an uncertain winter ahead. We have to think creatively about how to reach people in ways which feel good to them.
“It may feel counter-intuitive to use an app to tackle loneliness, especially when it is sometimes suggested they can isolate people. But many apps, often in addition to expert advice on a specific medical condition, offer ways to connect with individuals and communities where there are shared interests or goals.”
“The implications of repeated lockdowns, travel restrictions and social distancing are still emerging and the impact on us all, as individuals, has to be recognised. For example, we now know that areas with a higher concentration of younger people (aged 16-24) tended to have higher rates of loneliness during the key periods of the pandemic.***
“Loneliness can begin with a loss of confidence and then spiral quickly into negative feelings and a withdrawal from contact with others. But the downward spiral can be reversed successfully through psychological approaches including CBT, mindfulness and positive psychology. And even simple steps can make a massive difference. The simplest of all is connecting to people in a similar situation to your own.”
“At ORCHA we work with academics and innovators who are developing world-leading digital health tools. They are increasingly recognising that community support is essential to wellbeing and the apps we’ve featured in this list are all fantastic examples of this.”
Notes to editors:
**Holt-Lunstad, 2010 https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316