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Employee Assistance Programs and the Lonely EAP Client (Is Loneliness the New Obesity?)

Posted by Daniel Feerst on

Loneliness—it’s the reason why we reach out for one another in the middle of the night. The reason we sit beneath the

EAPs and Helping Clients overcome loneliness

stars and make wishes. The reason we make music, the reason we commit ourselves to another.

A while back in September, 2010, AARP Research conducted a survey of people aged 45 and older in regards to “Loneliness.” The findings correlated feelings of loneliness with poorer health, a lack of drive in building social links and relationships, and other negative wellness outcomes.

More recent research seven years later—this week--supports the same findings and go even further. The American Psychological Association reviewed 148 studies that involved 300,000 people. (Huge folks, huge!)

The findings: People who were more social had less of a chance of dying earlier—50% less chance! As an employee assistance professional, I like to humbly recommend intervening with loneliness. Take a strong look at the loneliness factor in your EAP clients.

Do an assessment and find out about this high risk health and wellness problem. As a professional, you notice smoking. You notice obesity. You can ask about sleep and caution clients about sitting all day. But now it is also time to ask about the new killer – loneliness.

loneliness is a new target area for EAPs

Loneliness equals premature death according to these researchers. You can read about this latest study at

It behooves the modern day EA Professional to consider this, not just for themselves but for their coworkers and employees. Employee Assistance Professionals should assess for loneliness due to the mental impact, ability to interfere with other treatment, and impact on physical health. And of course, then there is the bottom line.

Be aware of the employee undergoing personal relationship problems, or who vocalizes complaints about being alone or lonely.

Elderly men who are lonely are an especially higher risk of suicide. Do follow up with older clients, especially those who spouses have died. Are they isolated?

There is still the reality of client self-determination with any EAP or mental health client, but the indicators of poor mental health and well-being are something to be addressed with lonely clients—or at least brought to the attention of the sufferer.

Loneliness is a specific kind of stressor, and employed individuals who are lonely and isolated outside of work can still affect productivity if their condition impedes health and wellness. Always screen for depression, of course.

If sitting is the new smoking, is loneliness the new obesity? Consider the findings within the research study and see for yourself the kind of stress and poor health outcomes that loneliness can produce—from negative mental health to poor physical and personal health or dietary practices.

As an EAP, is loneliness something you already consider in your assessment in conscious and targeted way? Do let me know! Will you be making any changes? Discuss below.

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