Loneliness is affecting more and more people in the UK each year and has a significant impact on our mental health and wellbeing. Loneliness has been worsened by the pandemic and even as social distancing measures have become more relaxed, people are still feeling the impact.
It’s important to remember that loneliness can affect anyone, of any age and from any background. However, demographics such as older people, students, carers, or LGBT+ people are more likely to experience isolation.
Our relationships and connections with people and our communities is fundamental to our mental health and wellbeing. Loneliness can be triggered by internal feelings of disconnection with people and the world around us, but can also be influenced by external factors such as a relationship breakdown, bereavement, moving location or even starting a new job.
What can I do if I feel lonely?
· Talk to a trusted person about your feelings, this could be a friend, family member, colleague, councillor or health professional
· Consider joining a group or class doing something you enjoy or volunteer
· Visit places where you can be around other people, examples include the park, cinema or a café
· Take note of the things you’re grateful for
· Seek advice online for different ways to combat loneliness
What can I do to support someone who I think may be lonely?
· Encourage the person to open up and validate their feelings so they feel heard
· Ask questions that invite reflection on how they are feeling
· Motivate them to reach out to you when they’re feeling down
· Check in with them to see how they’re doing
· Plan to go places or do activities with them that you both enjoy
If a person feels like they are not in control of their emotions and are unable to manage them by themselves, it is important for them to reach out for support. Loneliness can severely impact our mental health and wellbeing over time if not managed.
The following organisations are some of the places available to offer help and support for loneliness. Remember, loneliness is often associated with other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, so always consider whether wider support is needed via mental health organisations, your school, university or GP.
Samaritans – mental health and wellbeing support
Age Connects – loneliness and isolation support for older people
Mind – helpline for information and support
Carers UK – advice and support for anyone who provides care
Empty Closets – online community for LGBT+ people over 13
The Silver Line – information, friendship and advice for people over 55
Student Minds – mental health charity supporting students
Meic – advice for children and young people under 25 in Wales