Rural loneliness a ticking time-bomb, says minister
Loneliness and isolation in rural Wales is a "ticking time bomb" which must be tackled, a Welsh Government minister has said.
Huw Irranca-Davies, the social care minister, said that dealing with the problem was a national priority.
According to the 2016-17 National Survey for Wales, around 17% of the population report being lonely.
Mr Irranca-Davies made the comments ahead of a visit to the Royal Welsh Show in Llanelwedd.
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Nearly 20% of the Welsh population live in communities of fewer than 1,500 people.
"Loneliness and isolation is a growing issue in communities right across Wales," Mr Irranca-Davies said.
"It affects everyone - be it a young person or an older person, a farmer or a doctor, a single person or a married couple, and can potentially lead to a range of serious health and social care problems."
The Welsh Government is drawing up a strategy to tackle the issue.
Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural affairs, added: "The farming lifestyle of working long hours every day of every week, very often alone, means any opportunity for interaction with others is often greatly reduced."
"There is a wide range of support available to farmers and rural communities and I urge anyone suffering to not suffer alone and access the help available," she added.