Back in November, Jennifer Wilson, a CBC fellow, interviewed people on the culture of individualism in Vancouver to better understand loneliness in our city and consider what we can do about it.
These interviews made up a five-part radio and web series called “Pretty Lonely”. The YMCA of Greater Vancouver’s Sarah Blackmore, Manager of Mental Wellness Programs, was invited to speak about social isolation on BC Today—a provincial daily call-in show—and help us understand the experiences of callers through a psychological lens.
Sarah helped us to understand that social isolation is a big problem. Loneliness is something often in the programs she oversees at the YMCA. One of the reasons people may be experiencing such high rates of loneliness is the financial burden of living in the Lower Mainland. Carrying the mental load of trying to make ends meet can be too much a burden for people to then step out of their comfort zones and make physical connections. Another contributing factor may be social media, which Sarah explains provokes social comparison. She recommends that everyone consider what the right balance of social media is for them.
One of the biggest takeaways—spurred by a caller who described how her intense social isolation was improved by taking a pre-natal class—was the power of shared life experiences. On this topic, Sarah said, “I think getting out physically into the community is really important. And so is utilizing community-based organizations like the YMCA where we have lots of different programs for children, young parents and unemployed youth. When you think of all of those experiences, like when we’re trying to get a job, work on our mental health and wellness or learn about healthy child development, these are things that really bring up a lot of vulnerability. And it’s really through vulnerability that we can connect to each other.”
Concerned about the growing rates of social isolation in the community? You’re not alone. Now has never been a more important time to support projects that bring people together. Thank you for your support and investing in what really matters—building safe, inclusive centres of community.