Mental health and loneliness: Using the US Surgeon General’s recommendations to create a community that fosters connection and supports mental health at work

Learn more about the relationship between mental health and social connection and what your organization can do to support both

Koa Health
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A difficult past few years has accelerated and intensified the global mental health crisis, but also put a spotlight on the many ways work impacts people’s lives. While remote and hybrid working has offered many flexibility and better work-life balance, it also exacerbated another crucial mental health issue affecting employees across age groups, roles and locations: loneliness. Globally, 55% of the workforce say they feel lonely on at least a weekly basis, with 79% saying their coworkers are the lonely ones. 

Six months ago, the U.S. Surgeon General urged employers to build workplace cultures centered around mental health and wellbeing, highlighting Five Essentials: Protection from Harm, Connection & Community, Work-Life Harmony, Mattering at Work, and Opportunity for Growth.

Want help implementing these changes in your workplace? Get your free copy of our playbook, guiding you through how to incorporate the U.S. Surgeon General’s Five Essentials.

Now, they’ve released an advisory on a key element of mental health (and one of their Five Essentials): social connection and community. Centered around the importance of connecting with others and the dangers isolation and loneliness present to mental and physical wellbeing, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory On The Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community  identifies six things workplaces can do to support social connection. They include the following: making social connection a strategic priority; training and empowering leaders; leveraging existing resources; creating practices and workplace culture to foster connection and inclusion; putting policies in place to protect workers’ ability to nurture relationships; and considering the opportunities and challenges posed by flexible work.

At Koa Health, we know that mental health affects every aspect of people’s lives, including their ability to connect with others. We also know that community and connection can have a positive and protective impact on mental and physical wellbeing.

However, building community and fostering a workplace culture that supports mental health can be challenging for organizations—especially given the stigma that keeps so many people from sharing their struggles and seeking help. Find out more about the link between social connection and mental wellbeing and how you can build a supportive community at work with simple, everyday actions. Our Playbook: Loneliness and mental health, has broken it down by each of the U.S. Surgeon General's six recommendations:

  • Make social connection a strategic priority
  • Train, equip, and empower leaders and managers
  • Leverage existing leadership and employee training, orientation, and wellness resources
  • Create practices and a workplace culture that foster connection and inclusion
  • Put in place policies to protect workers’ ability to nurture relationships outside work
  • Consider the opportunities and challenges posed by flexible work hours and arrangements


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Koa Health

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