Mental Health Minnesota has formed "Connect," an initiative aimed at fighting the social isolation many people in Minnesota are feeling as a result of social distancing in response to COVID-19.

Connect provides social connections by phone between volunteers and people who may be struggling with social isolation, loneliness, stress, anxiety or worry, according to a Mental Health Minnesota news release. Volunteers will also be able to provide people with information and resources to help address any mental health concerns as needed.

Long-term social isolation and loneliness can be detrimental to both mental health and physical health, according to a number of studies. One study noted that the impact of long-term loneliness on physical health was equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

Anyone in Minnesota can sign up to receive phone calls from Mental Health Minnesota volunteers at www.mentalhealthmn.org. Those interested in serving as volunteers can also sign up on the website.

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