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Social Isolation and Loneliness in Rural Communities: can cross-sector partnerships play a role in tackling the growing epidemic?

Written by Build Healthy Places Staff on February 23, 2021

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This interview is part of Build Healthy Places Network’s new Video Snapshot Series, a series of quick deep dives with experts from the community development, health, and finance sectors.

A growing epidemic in the United States, social isolation and loneliness is a health risk that has only intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. It increases a person’s risk of premature death, is associated with increased risk of dementia, leads to higher rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, and overall reduced quality of life.

Both a rural and urban phenomenon, social isolation and loneliness are uniquely challenging to combat in rural communities. In this brief 20 minute Video Snapshot, Build Healthy Places Network’s Ruth Thomas Squance speaks with Carrie Henning-Smith, assistant professor at University of Minnesota School of Public Health and Deputy Director of the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center, whose work centers on health equity, with a focus on rural residents, older adults, and historically marginalized populations. During this interview, the two will discuss the obstacles of addressing social isolation and loneliness in rural communities; the role of the community development sector in tackling these challenges; and how cross-sector health partnerships in rural areas can help ensure an equitable recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.

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