Lonely Brits would feel better chatting to postman than a Facebook ‘friend’ for company, says UK’s former top doctor


LONELY Brits would feel better chatting to the postman than turning to a Facebook “friend” for company, the UK’s former top family doctor says.

Social media pals are a poor substitute for the real thing or contact with people who are likely to spot if “someone is missing something in their life” such as a barmaid, hairdresser or priest.

 UK's former top GP said lonely Brits are better off talking to the postman than a 'Facebook' friend

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UK’s former top GP said lonely Brits are better off talking to the postman than a ‘Facebook’ friendCredit: Alamy

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said communities used to be “stronger” and a fall in genuine social contacts has led to an increase in visits to GPs by people complaining of anxiety, isolation and mental health problems.

She now heads the new National Academy for Social Prescribing which, via GP practices, gets patients non-medical treatment through support groups that match their needs.

Examples include sending people to art classes, tango dancing, magic lessons, Tai Chi, fishing, knit and natter groups or the museum.

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She said: “While our social media world has mushroomed, the people with whom we have meaningful relationships has shrunk. Social media has brought huge harms.

“You can have 1,000 Facebook friends and be desperately lonely.”

The professor, who recently led the Royal College of GPs, added: “I’d argue a form of social prescribing has always existed. It’s what priests, hairdressers and barmaids have always done.”

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