26 February 2020

Dr Chris Blackmore gives evidence to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee

Dr Chris Blackmore from the Mental Health Group in ScHARR attended the House of Lords to give evidence to the Science and Technology Committee on ‘Ageing: Science, technology and healthy living’.

A photograph of Westminster.

Dr Blackmore was there to represent the University of Sheffield’s Centre for Loneliness Studies.

The committee meeting focused on the role technology can play in the mental health of older adults, with particular reference to loneliness and social isolation. The session considered issues such as what happens to mental health across the lifespan, which groups in society are most likely to experience loneliness, and the impact of technology on these issues.

Dr Blackmore said: “It was a really interesting experience to contribute to a House of Lords Committee and to see how the process of gathering evidence works at government level. I was also interested to hear from other panel members on the latest developments in technology for older adults from BuddyHub, No Isolation and NESTA. We discussed the links between loneliness and social isolation and physical and mental health in older age, the technological solutions currently available, and the evidence we have for their effectiveness.”

Dr Blackmore went on to add: “The panel were in agreement that we shouldn't expect technology to ‘solve’ the problems of loneliness and social isolation. Technology is sometimes used in a way which replaces or diminishes human contact; as a panel, we suggested it works best as an enabler of genuine connection, which may well be face-to-face, rather than as a replacement for this.”

More information about the Centre for Loneliness Studies is available here.

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