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I like to think of social health as the dimension of well-being that comes from connection and community. Everywhere I look these days, I see actions being taken to improve people’s social health.

That’s because the pandemic has catalyzed efforts to alleviate widespread isolation and loneliness. Below, I share examples of these efforts from the past couple months.

We have a real opportunity to harness this momentum and create lasting change in our society. Now is the time. Let’s do it.

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I’d love to hear from YOU: What are you seeing and doing in the communities you belong to that relates to social health?


People crave connection. So startups are designing for it.

Before the pandemic, widespread loneliness in the US and other countries was inspiring entrepreneurs and innovators to create solutions and motivating investors to fund them.

Now with quarantines and physical distancing, even more people are recognizing the value — or necessity — of digital platforms and other kinds of products and services that help us connect with our friends, families, and communities.

As a result of these two trends, I am seeing more and more startups target social wellness: the dimension of health that comes from relationships.

Image by NordWood

Zoom, FaceTime, and Skype weren’t designed for digital birthdays or weddings, but that’s what they’re being used for today. In response to users’ evolving needs and desires, social startups are launching or pivoting. …


Three ways Verily’s Project Baseline is humanizing clinical research

This month marked the two-year anniversary of Project Baseline, Verily’s initiative to map human health. We started with a longitudinal, observational Health Study in partnership with Duke University School of Medicine, Stanford Medicine, and Google. Now, we are expanding the platform with additional studies and opportunities for people to contribute to research.

“Clinical” can mean “efficient and unemotional; coldly detached.”

Taking part in a clinical study can feel, well, clinical, so that even if people understand the value of research, they may be reluctant to get involved because they fear being treated like human guinea pigs. …


An afternoon of conversation and connection across ages.

The holidays can be a wonderful time to enjoy the company of loved ones. But for people who experience loneliness, social isolation, or social anxiety, the holidays can instead be a source of compounded sadness or stress.

Unfortunately, many people feel this way. The Economist recently reported that 22% of adults in the U.S. “always or often feel lonely, or lack companionship, or else feel left out or isolated.” Other surveys have estimated that loneliness affects nearly half of Americans. As a result, people may develop health consequences similar to those caused by smoking and obesity.

When I moderated a panel on this topic earlier this year, one takeaway was that intergenerational connection can be a meaningful way to counter loneliness and foster social health. I’ve been interested in exploring that idea ever since, and the holidays seemed like the perfect opportunity. …


We all desire to be acknowledged, accepted, and loved.

While in Bangkok in October for ShapeAPAC, a gathering of 145 World Economic Forum Global Shapers from 30 countries, I spent a day in the notorious slum of the Khlong Toei district learning about their community improvement efforts. It was an eye-opening experience in many ways.

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A woman outside her home in Khlong Toei.

During a presentation by the Duang Prateep Foundation, which leads projects in Khlong Toei to promote education, rehabilitation, and general welfare, community leaders explained the stigma and stereotypes that others cast over the slum-dwellers. …


From designing technology to calling your grandparents

“If there is one person on the planet who still is suffering from loneliness and from pain or despair, and we don’t know about it or we don’t want to know about it, something is wrong with the world.”
-Elie Wiesel, author, professor, activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor

Source: Huy Phan on Unsplash.

Loneliness has been getting a lot of attention lately, and rightly so: a growing body of research suggests that it’s on the rise and causes myriad health outcomes. In a recent study, 46% of Americans reported sometimes or always feeling alone, 43% said that their relationships are not meaningful, and 20% rarely or never feel close to people. …


(and other advice I live by)

In August 2017, I was selected to become a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, joining a network of 7,500+ people across 150+ countries who tackle local, national, and global challenges. The San Francisco Hub asked me the following questions for a blog series introducing the new cohort.

What’s your name?

A name my mom made up: Kasley, pronounced “caz-lee”.

What brought you to San Francisco?

In the ten years prior to moving here, I lived in seven cities across three countries and traveled to many more. When I first visited San Francisco, I knew that I had found the place where I wanted to stay. In fact, I was so determined to do so that I changed my phone number to a San Francisco area code while still living in Boston — despite having no foreseeable reason or plan to move here. …

About

Kasley Killam

Writing, speaking, and working on social health. MPH @ Harvard. Say hi @ kasleykillam.com.

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