NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — More people report feelings of overwhelming loneliness than you might think. A study by health insurer Cigna said half of their respondents said they mostly or always feel lonely. A group says they're here and ready to listen.
Since high school, Kayla Crespo has dealt with anxiety, and it only became worse after she graduated.
"I had started going through a really hard time in my life where anxiety and depression were the only two things I did know," she said.
That's when she found peer-to-peer mentoring program Beneath the Skin, a national nonprofit that pairs mentors with mentees and offers a source of comfort and support for women feeling loneliness.
Crespo interviewed for a job with Beneath the Skin and met mentor Sara Sams.
"The fact she could call me in that situation was truly an honor," said Sams.
"It's like I have an older sister that I never got to have," said Crespo.
Studies have consistently shown that Millennials and members of Gen Z report feelings of loneliness more than other generations, and the start of the pandemic only made it worse with so many experiencing isolation from those initial shutdowns.
"They say prolonged feelings of loneliness can have the same effect on your life as smoking 15 cigarettes a day," said Sams. "It can take 15 years off your life."
Beneath the Skin is now mentoring more than 40 women in person or online, focusing efforts on Millennial and Gen Z women.
Today, Crespo is a mentor with Beneath the Skin.
"I'm so grateful for you," Crespo told Sams.
"Don't do it! Don't you make me cry!" Sam laughed.
For more on Beneath the Skin, visit here.