As part of a broad national partnership, Äldre Sagen – DaneAGE and the Red Cross have played a leading role in the development of a national strategy and action plan to reduce loneliness in Denmark.
Supported by the Danish government, the National Partnership Against Loneliness brings together 115 stakeholders across municipalities, regions, companies, organisations, civil society and others to propose Denmark’s first strategy and action plan against loneliness, which was published in May 2023.
A worrying trend
Loneliness is a serious societal problem in many EU countries. In Denmark the number of people who feel lonely have been steadily increasing over the past ten years. In the last survey conducted in 2021, more than one in eight Danes over the age of 16 experienced loneliness. This corresponds to almost 600,000 people. The increase is particularly significant among young people, with every 5th young person between the ages of 16 and 24 experiencing loneliness.
Who experiences loneliness? Although anyone can experience loneliness, people in certain life situations or within certain groups of the population are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing loneliness than others. Figures show that people who live alone, are in a socially disadvantaged life situation or people who either live with an illness or disability themselves or are close to someone who does, are at particularly high risk. Belonging to a minority group can also play a role.
If loneliness keeps on rising, more people will suffer from unhappiness and both physical and mental illness, which will slow down and damage productivity and cohesion in our society. The rise in loneliness is a serious and complex societal problem that we need to address through joint multi-sectorial action, as explains the Danish National Strategy.
Converging efforts at national level
The members of the National Partnership against loneliness have all contributed to the content of the strategy and action plan through several rounds of consultation and workshops. The main purpose of the Partnership is to develop a common strategy and action plan that integrates the work currently been doing by the different stakeholders to reduce loneliness and reach to the target of halving the prevalence of loneliness by 2040 among the adult Danish population over the age of 16. The strategy focuses on supporting these actors to continue their work through knowledge sharing and cross collaboration.
The partnership’s work is based on the premise that loneliness occurs within five key life areas, in which it should therefore be prevented and addressed:
- Home and Living
- Daycare, school and education
- Leisure and communities
- Working life and employment
- Health and care
Both the strategy and action plan are closely linked and should be read in context: the strategy sets the direction for where to focus, while the action plan provides a number of concrete suggestions for what we need to do and what initiatives we need to implement to reduce loneliness in Denmark.