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May 31 2020
Feelings of loneliness or isolation can affect anyone at any time and at any stage of our lives. It is difficult at any age and none of us are immune. In January 2018, in response to the Jo Cox Commission report on loneliness, the government set out its first steps to tackle loneliness (1) Since then loneliness has become a focus of conversation and a survey conducted by the charity Campaign to End Loneliness (2) found that a fifth of the UK population, over nine million people, say they are always or often lonely. Two thirds of the population said they wouldn’t feel comfortable admitting it if they were, which is over 40 million people in the UK. Like mental health, it is a taboo subject for many who fear opening up about their feelings. There are many people trying to cope with isolation or loneliness during the coronavirus pandemic but loneliness is not always the same as being alone. Even people that have lots of social contact, are in a relationship or part of a family may still feel lonely especially if they don’t feel understood or cared for by the people around them. Likewise you can be alone and feel peaceful and content. Feelings of Isolation and loneliness can happen because of many factors, however in this current period where COVID-19 is causing social isolation, it frequently arises because of the forced separation from those we love, bereavement or due to the lack of social connections with other people.
How loneliness can affect your health
According to the Mental Health Foundation, long-term loneliness is associated with an increased risk of certain mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and increased stress. In addition it is also linked to physical health issues such as cardiovascular impairment, chronic pain, and fatigue with a study showing that loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26% (3). You can find more helpful information on mental health at https://safety.networkrail.co.uk/healthandwellbeing/a-d-v-i-c-e/
Loneliness and gender
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) carried out an analysis of characteristics and circumstances associated with loneliness in England using the Community Life Survey 2016 to 2017 and found that women reported feeling lonely more frequently than men. They concluded that it was possible this could be reflected in differences in how men and women reflect on their personal experiences of loneliness and some research suggests that men may be more reluctant than women to report undesirable feelings such as loneliness.
Don’t keep it to yourself:
Giving to others:
Try to remain physically active:
If you prefer to manage alone:
Whether you are concerned about a young person, elderly relative or just want to find different social circle,
these sources of information may help.
www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/feeling-lonely - Provides a mood assessment and advice on
what you can do if you are feeling lonely.
www.letstalkloneliness.co.uk - Provides practical advice, organisations and support helplines
(0800 1111) www.childline.org.uk - Childline is a counselling service for children and young people
(0800 4 70 80 90) www.thesilverline.org.uk - The Silverline is a free helpline for older people across the UK
offering information, friendship and advice, link callers to local groups and services, offer regular befriending calls
and protect and support those who are suffering abuse and neglect
meetup.com - Find or organise a local group. More than 9,000 groups in local communities, each one with the
goal of improving themselves or their communities and make friends.
nextdoor.com - Nextdoor is the free private social network for you and your neighbours to talk online
do-it.org - Volunteer in your local community and give your time to help others.
mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/coping-with-loneliness – support for mental health concerns
3) Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T.B., Baker, M., Harris, T. and Stephenson, D., 2015. Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: a metaanalytic review. Perspectives on psychological science, 10(2), pp.227-237