Minister Of Loneliness
Directed by Stu Maddux
A refugee, A CEO, A young YouTuber, A trans woman aging with HIV/AIDS, A widower in Japan. What do they have in common? They are all suffering from chronic loneliness. 9 million in the United Kingdom; 43 million in the US; incalculable more worldwide. In the past decade medical experts have discovered that chronic loneliness and isolation is causing heart disease, inflammation and early cognitive decline. It’s killing us as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It’s a modern epidemic that is spreading rapidly. It affects young people more than old, couples more than singles; and, connectivity and social media is making it worse. At the same time the tech and aging industries encourage us to isolate more. Governments are beginning to step in. A United States Surgeon General has made loneliness one of his primary causes. In January, Prime Minister Theresa May appointed the first Minister of Loneliness to address the impact the epidemic is having in the care system. Against this backdrop we spend a year with a handful of people facing an early demise from chronic loneliness and isolation. Each person pulls themselves back from a point of no return sometimes through the help of others, sometimes through sheer will. They each put a face on a different group of people particularly vulnerable to the epidemic yet they discover a very real solution to their own loneliness. But the question remains, can millions of us follow their lead before it’s too late?