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The Next Vitalvoices: Exploring the Epidemic of Loneliness

Boy sits and looks lonely

The Next vitalvoices: Exploring the Epidemic of Loneliness

By Marie Jacinto

Loneliness is far more than just a bad feeling—it harms both individual and societal health.


Loneliness is reaching epidemic levels – across generations, geographies, and cultures. More people are feeling lonely, isolated, and disconnected with stark physical and emotional consequences: Feelings of loneliness take place within marriages, within families, within communities, and inside school classrooms.

As part of UHD’s series of events for its 50th anniversary year, vitalvoices is presenting “Loneliness: An Untold Epidemic Story” at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 4, in C100 at the College of Public Service. This conversation with Dr. Matthew Lee Smith of Texas A&M School of Public Health and Dr. Luming Li of The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD will be centered on the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2023 report “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.”

Additionally, Dr. Smith will discuss national initiatives to foster social connection and societal cohesion as well as research about innovative strategies to reduce social disconnectedness. Dr. Li will bring it home and talk about the issue as it relates to our own backyard here in the Houston/Harris County area.

This event is in-person and via Zoom. Register to attend.


About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit