Cultivating Connection:
Belonging & the Bottom Line 

Disconnection increases the risk for mental health challenges, and loneliness—in terms of its impact on mortality— is on par with smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. This, and other alarming outcomes, were part of the 2023 U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory on the health effects of social connection, which provides recommendations for individuals, health systems, workplaces, governments and community organizations to address connection and promote well-being.1 In these settings, stewards of health promotion and population well-being are well-positioned to respond to this growing challenge. The advisory summarizes the many physical and mental health benefits of strengthening our relationships and increasing connection. It also highlights how disconnection increases the risk for mental health challenges, which is a growing concern across all sectors. 

A few months after the U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory was published, the World Health Organization launched the WHO Commission on Social Connection—a three-year initiative to reduce loneliness by raising awareness and increasing resources globally.2 The Commission echoes the advisory by articulating the significant impact of social connection on well-being, while also acknowledging its impact on business. Disconnection and lack of support at work contribute to job dissatisfaction, burnout, and lower levels of individual and team performance, making the workplace an essential partner in addressing the increasing rates of loneliness and isolation. 

So, how do we address these needs as part of a comprehensive approach to health and well-being among the populations we serve?  

A growing evidence base emphasizes the importance of a collaborative, multi-sector approach to addressing complex health promotion challenges including the concerning trends related to social isolation, loneliness and lack of social connection. This means health promotion professionals and their organizational leaders have numerous opportunities to address these challenges in a meaningful way. Individuals must intentionally protect, maintain and grow social connections across their lifespan, which requires access to resources that promote awareness and skill building. Community groups and workplace teams must ensure their practices and group dynamics support social connection for everyone and avoid reinforcing inequities. Institutions (workplaces, schools, health systems and government entities) must address the policy and environmental influences that have the power to facilitate or hinder social connections. This includes physical, digital and social environments. 

What is our call to action?

How can we raise awareness, build skills, and promote policies and practices that foster population health and well-being, including more positive and supportive interactions? 
How do we create programs and resources that meet the needs of a diverse, multigenerational workforce, ensuring a strong sense of belonging among those in hybrid, remote or in-person work arrangements? 

How do we measure and evaluate the effectiveness of our strategies to ensure our efforts support well-being for all while demonstrating the value of investment for all stakeholders? 

What is the role of relationship building and peer support in addressing other tenacious health and well-being challenges? 

Sessions at the 2025 Art & Science of Health Promotion Conference will aim to address these challenges, featuring:

  • Innovative approaches for addressing health and well-being needs (including social connection) in schools, health systems, workplaces and communities
  • Inspiring examples of health and well-being interventions that rely on scientific, data-driven approaches to meeting diverse health and well-being needs
  • Creative partnerships that go beyond individualistic approaches to address the culture and systems that influence social connection and other complex health issues
  • Measurement and evaluation approaches that support ongoing process improvement and demonstrate the value of investment in health and well-being initiatives.

This conference brings together professionals across multiple disciplines focused on advancing health and well-being in workplaces, organizations and communities. These professionals include health promotion practitioners, employers, human resources executives, benefits consultants, researchers and academics, preventive medicine specialists, chief medical officers and other allied health promotion professionals. Sessions will identify practical, evidence-based solutions to meet emerging health and well-being challenges, with special emphasis on addressing social isolation, loneliness and connection.


1. Office of the U.S. Surgeon General. Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community. 2023. 
2. WHO Commission on Social Connection. November 2023. 


Grossmeier, Jessica

Conference Chair:
Jessica Grossmeier, Ph.D.

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