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NY Gov. Hochul appoints sex therapist Dr. Ruth as state loneliness ambassador

A recent Gallup global survey revealed that 51% of adults worldwide felt at least "a little lonely," including 24% who felt "very/fairly" so.

Published: November 10, 2023 9:55pm

New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday announced the appointment of a famous sex therapist to serve as the state's honorary Ambassador to Loneliness, the first such appointment in the United States.

Born in Weimar Germany, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, 95, survived the Holocaust and went on to become an iconic sex therapist and talk show host. Her appointment means she will "help New Yorkers of all ages address the growing issue of social isolation."

"“As New York works to fight the loneliness epidemic, some help from honorary Ambassador Ruth Westheimer may be just what the doctor ordered," the governor declared. "Dr. Ruth Westheimer has offered her services to help older adults and all New Yorkers cope with the loneliness epidemic and I will be appointing her to serve as the nation's first state-level honorary Ambassador to Loneliness. Studies show individuals experiencing loneliness had a 32 percent higher risk of dying early and we need leaders like Dr. Ruth to help address this critical component of our mental health crisis."

Her appointment comes amid mounting concerns over the social impact of both the COVID-19 pandemic and increased awareness of social isolation issues, which have particularly affected younger Americans.

A recent Gallup global survey revealed that 51% of adults worldwide felt at least "a little lonely," including 24% who felt "very/fairly" so. The survey showed particular disparities by age blocs, with those over 65 the least likely to say they felt lonely. Loneliness was most pervasive among those aged 19-29, when 57% saying that were at least "a little lonely," including 25% who felt "very/fairly" so.

"Loneliness and social isolation have long been linked to poor mental health outcomes, including depression and anxiety, and has been associated with dementia in older adults. As an orphaned survivor of the Holocaust and with her international fame as a talk show host, the estimable Dr. Ruth Westheimer is very well suited to raise awareness of this issue and encourage people of all ages to address issues of isolation in their lives and among their families," Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said. "We look forward to working with this national icon to help all New Yorkers seek and maintain healthy connections in their community throughout life and as they age."

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter.

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