Healthy lives for young people
Relationships

Loneliness

When we think of loneliness and the people affected by loneliness we often think of older people living alone, but anyone can experience feelings of loneliness at any stage of life.

It is important to remember that being lonely and being alone are very different things. Spending lots of time alone doesn’t necessarily mean you are lonely, and even if you live with your family or spend all day surrounded by other people at school or live in a busy city, you can still suffer from loneliness.

Feeling lonely isn’t a mental health problem, but the two can be closely linked. Feeling lonely can affect your mental health and mental health problems can increase your chances of feeling lonely.

Research suggests that there are five main characteristics of being lonely. These include:

  1. Having nobody to talk to
  2. Feeling disconnected from the world
  3. Feeling left out
  4. Sadness
  5. Not feeling understood

Loneliness and young people

In a 2018 Survey, young people aged 16-24 were reported to feel loneliness more often than any other age group. During this time the body is going through lots of changes both physically and emotionally, which can lead to feelings of isolation. 

Here are some things that can make loneliness worse for young people: 

  • Moving to a new area
  • Starting a new school or university
  • Having a long-term illness or disability
  • Losing someone you love 
  • Breaking up with someone
  • Being bullied or abused
  • Feeling different from the people around you
  • Feeling like everyone on social media is having more fun than you

What to do if you feel lonely

There is nothing embarrassing or shameful about feeling lonely, and there are some simple things you can do to help improve the way you feel.

Top tips:

  • Talk to an adult or a friend you trust about how you’re feeling
  • Join a club or an activity you might be interested in
  • Volunteer – this is a good way to meet people and helping others can really help improve your mental health
  • Re-connect with friends or family that you haven’t spoken to in a while          
  • If being around people makes you feel anxious, start by going somewhere like the café or cinema where you are not expected to talk to anyone
  • Be careful when comparing yourself to others, people on social media often only share what they want you to see. Remind yourself you don’t know how people feel when not on social media. 
  • Remember you are not alone, there are times when everyone feels lonely and there is always a way to reach out
  • Get some help – there are lots of organisations that provide a free call, text or email helpline that can help you (see the list of organisations below)

Mind provide in-depth information about feeling lonely and how to overcome it

Click relationships Read more about how loneliness can impact your relationships

Action for Children Find out more information about how to combat loneliness

Young Minds Read this article to find out the importance of how living in the present can help improve your mental health

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