A simple way to combat loneliness; lessons from the Danes

A simple way to combat loneliness; lessons from the Danes

You don’t necessarily need to be in a romantic relationship to be happy; but it’s definitely important to feel connected.

Good quality relationships and a sense of belonging are crucial for happiness and wellbeing.

On the flip side, feeling isolated and lonely can contribute to depression as well as a range of physical health problems. So here’s what the Danes do to tackle this increasingly widespread problem…

via qz.com by Jenny Anderson

Toad, a 20-year-old Danish woman living in Copenhagen, has been lonely her whole life. She is autistic, and as a child, did not have any friends. When she moved from the country to the city, not much changed. “They says it’s a phase, but a phase becomes a life,” she says, surrounded by six other young adults in a cozy apartment in Copenhagen—all of whom are working on becoming less lonely.

Toad is among the attendees of Ventilen, or “friend to one” in Danish, a 20-year-old organization set up to bring 15-to-25-year-olds together twice a week with two or three volunteers. Together, the people in the group play games, make meals, go to the cinema, and build the human connections that many feel they lack.

“I try to fight my depression by being less lonely, not with medicine,” Toad says.

Christian, who is 23, says he too suffered in high school. Though he had two friends with whom he spoke regularly, he rarely saw them in person. He tried anti-anxiety medicine, but coming off it was hard. Then his aunt found Ventilen on Facebook and recommended he try it. “It’s helped me to open up,” he says. “I don’t feel lonely the same way.”

Ventilen currently offers 21 venues in Denmark where young people looking for companionship can meet one another. There are 15 gathering places for people aged 15-25, and six KOMsammen, or “Fit for Friendship” places, which focus on food and movement for those aged 15-30. The essential services its venues offer are straightforward, and yet can be so elusive: a place to go, things to do, and people to do them with…

…keep reading the full & original article HERE