World Health Day: The importance of social connections

To mark World Health Day 2023, we took a deep dive into Gloucestershire's Director of Public Health report which focuses on social connections.

Hannah Meek

28 Mar 2023

four people looking out on top of a hill

World Health Day (WHD), held every year on 7 April, marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948 and each year focuses on a specific public health concern. 


WHO will observe its 75th anniversary this year and the theme for which is Health for All. This is about looking back at the public health successes that have improved the quality of life during the last 7 decades, and to also motivate action to tackle the health challenges of today and tomorrow. So that everyone, everywhere can attain the highest level of health and well-being.  


WHO defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. On the note of mental and social wellbeing, we wanted to guide your attention to the most recent report from Gloucestershire County Council which focuses on the importance of social connections for our wellbeing.  


Deputy Director of Public Health- Gloucestershire CC, Siobhan Farmer said ‘We know that having good-quality relationships can help us to live longer, happier lives with fewer mental health challenges and our support from social networks can strengthen our ability to bounce back after stressful situations’.  


The report outlines why social connections are so important, with some shocking statistics:  


  • The Big Lunch found that disconnected communities could be costing the UK economy £32 billion every year 

  • Loneliness and social isolation can increase the risk of anxiety, heart disease and depression and is as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day 

  • 50% of disabled people will be lonely on any given day 

  • 20.37% of adults in Gloucestershire felt lonely often/always or some of the time in 2019/20 

  • 33% of 18-24 year olds report that they would like to be more involved in their community when surveyed in 2021 



The Five Ways to Wellbeing recognises the importance of connecting with others to stay healthy. Here are a few ways to connect to improve our mental and social wellbeing:  

  • Reach out to family and friends (call, arrange a walk, video call or a text) 

  • Join a local community group such as a sports team or a hobby to meet other like-minded people  

  • Volunteer for a local charity  


Click here to read the full report from Gloucestershire CC for more tips, insights, and signposting!  


For mor einformation on World Health Day, go to  

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Hannah Meek
28 Mar 2023

Senior Insight Officer