Social Disconnection in Late Life Mental Illness - Commentary From the National Institute of Mental Health

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2021 Aug;29(8):727-730. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2020.08.013. Epub 2020 Aug 26.


  1. Social disconnection – both objective social isolation as well as perceived social isolation (otherwise known as loneliness) – is a prevalent affliction among older adults, with profound effects on mental health.

  2. Mechanistic understanding of how mental illness contributes to, is exacerbated by, or is otherwise linked to social disconnection remains elusive, and therapeutic interventions which leverage social connection to enhance compliance with or efficacy of mental health treatment, though promising, remain scarce.

  3. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is committed to transforming the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure. To translate basic knowledge into new methods for diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illness demands appreciation for the broader milieu of social and environmental factors in which mental illness prevails – of which, social connection or disconnection is one.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Mental Health
  • National Institute of Mental Health (U.S.)
  • United States