Challenge aims to find solutions to loneliness among vulnerable groups

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health and the Administration for Community Living (ACL) recently launched the MENTAL Health Challenge intending to alleviate social isolation and loneliness among veterans, the disabled, and older adults.

These groups experience loneliness and social isolation more than other groups, and social isolation has been linked to a variety of health risks.

“For many older adults and people with disabilities, increased social isolation and loneliness is one unfortunate consequence of physical distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Lance Robertson, ACL administrator and Health and Human Services assistant secretary for aging, said. “We need to have a wider range of tools and resources to help people remain connected and engaged and an easy-to-use way for people to find and access them.”

Challenge participants must develop an easy-to-use online system. The system must offer recommendations for programs, activities, and resources based on individual needs, interests, and abilities, which help users engage in the community.

The agencies will award $750,000 in prizes.

The online systems will be demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, an annual trade show produced by the Consumer Technology Association, and winners will be announced.

The challenge will be part of a national public awareness campaign.

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