This week, February 8-12, is national Start With Hello Week. The Ohio Academy of Family Physicians, along with 17 other Ohio groups, has partnered with Sandy Hook Promise to spread the message on how to reduce social isolation and build connected and inclusive classrooms, schools, and communities.
Social isolation is the overwhelming feeling of being left out, lonely, or treated like you are invisible. It is a growing epidemic in the United States and within our schools. Excessive feelings of isolation can even be associated with violent and suicidal behavior. In fact, one study reports that chronic loneliness increases our risk of an early death by 14%. Furthermore, young people who are isolated can become victims of bullying, violence, and/or depression. As a result, many further pull away from society, struggle with learning and social development, and/or may choose to hurt themselves or others.