Today’s Solutions: May 20, 2024

When you’re having a bad day, does a phone call from a loved one improve your mood and outlook on life? If so, you’re not alone. New research from the University of Texas at Austin shows that a single daily phone call, even from a stranger, can alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety for people experiencing isolation. 

The researchers collaborated with Meals on Wheels of Central Texas to examine how simple outreach strategies could improve the lives of those living alone. They used the isolation of the pandemic as the perfect setting for their phone connection experiment. The researchers recruited 240 adults and placed them in the daily phone call group or the control group. The participants ranged in age from 27 to 101, but more than half were over 65 years old. 

The researchers then had volunteers between 17 and 23 years old make phone calls to the participants. Callers were trained in empathetic conversational techniques and had to place at least two calls a week to each of their assigned participants. 

The researchers measured mental health indicators before and after the study and found that those who received calls reported, on average, a 16 percent decrease in loneliness measures. The number experiencing anxiety also dropped 37 percent by the end of the study and the number that were at least mildly depressed dropped by 25 percent.

The study demonstrates that what the researchers called “sunshine calls”: short, frequent, check-ins with those in isolation, can have a significant impact on mental health and wellbeing. Something as simple as a phone call can be a breath of fresh air for a relative or friend living alone right now. It’s also informative for public health initiatives. Setting up a volunteer-run phone call outreach program could be an affordable and easy way to check in on some of society’s most vulnerable.

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Scientists map the mysteries of the brain in more detail than ever before

Google researchers revealed a wonderfully precise map of a portion of the human brain, marking a significant step forward in neuroscience. This astonishing feat, published in ...

Read More

The top 5 flower trends blooming in gardens everywhere this year

Springtime brings a burst of color and life to gardens everywhere, and this year is no exception. Trends in flower planting are flourishing, ranging ...

Read More

Why hiking is good for your brain

Hiking has gained popularity during the pandemic as a safe way to get outside and stay active. Hiking lets you take in the beauty ...

Read More

This is your brain on music

Music does something to humans like no other animal. The rhythm gets inside our bodies and we can’t help but move along with the ...

Read More