Researcher warns of “epidemic of loneliness” because of corona

Researcher warns of

At least one and a half meters away, is an important corona rule. Many people have become much more distant from each other. They live alone in their four walls and have hardly any contact with other people.

"The number of people with almost no human contact in a coarse city is greater than you might think," says the head of the counseling and pastoral care department at the hamburg diaconal agency, stefan deutschmann. During the first phase of the corona pandemic, between mid-march and mid-may, hamburg's telephone helpline received 25 to 30 percent more calls than usual. "Many calls are an expression of people's deep loneliness," says deutschmann.

Nationwide, the approximately 100 telephone chaplaincy offices supported by the two mainstream churches have seen a similarly rough increase in voice contacts. In about 40 percent of the telephone calls, the main topic was the illnesses, uncertainties and changes caused by the pandemic.

16 percent of the conversations were about insecurity and fear, and 24 percent about loneliness, according to ulrike mai, spokeswoman for the telephone counselling service. In september of this year, the telephone counselling service continued to receive more calls than in the same month of the previous year, with 81,000. At that time there had been 75 000. In addition, many younger uber mail (total: 3428 / september 2019: 2812) and chat (2265 / september 2019: 1546) had reported.

Hamburg futurologist horst opaschowski warns of a dramatic increase in loneliness. "The pandemic threatens to become an epidemic of loneliness. Since the "stay-at-home"-more and more people in germany are living alone at home," opaschowski explains. In a representative survey, he found that the fear of loneliness is almost as widespread as the fear of old-age poverty. In mid march of this year, when the lockdown began in germany, 84 percent were of the opinion: "for many older people, contact poverty will be just as burdensome in the future as monetary poverty." In an earlier survey in january 2019, only 61 percent had agreed with this statement.

In a survey conducted by the forsa institute last may, 80 percent of respondents said they were particularly burdened by a lack of contact with family and friends. The consequences of the pandemic had put many people to a psychological stress test, explained the techniker krankenkasse (TK), which had commissioned the representative study. However, sick leave due to mental illness has been on the rise for years, said a TK spokeswoman.

Opaschowski draws attention to the long-term consequences in his new book "the semiglucky society. In the future society of long life, the greatest poverty in old age will be contact poverty, he predicts. More and more people living alone in old age. They had significantly fewer social contacts than in earlier years, missed their work colleagues and the recognition they received in their jobs, says opaschowski. The boundaries of loneliness, depression and mental illness are blurred, he said.

The german chamber of psychotherapists had already pointed out this danger in august. "In addition to depression and anxiety disorders, acute and post-traumatic stress disorders, alcohol and drug dependence, obsessive-compulsive disorders and psychoses may also increase," declared chamber president dietrich munz. The elderly are among the most severely affected groups. "For many people aged 75 and older, fear of infection often turns into mortal fear, and withdrawal into total isolation," says the chamber, citing the practical experience of psychotherapists. "In the end, they agonize with the expectation of dying alone because of corona."


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