This article covers
- What is Loneliness?
- Loneliness and mental health
- With whom or where to get help?
What is Loneliness?
Loneliness refers to a negative emotional state that you can experience when your need for certain social relationships is not being met.
Loneliness is not the same as when you are alone. Being alone refers to not having anyone else physically present, whereas loneliness is more of a feeling that experience. This means that you can be around a group of people and still feel lonely, or you can be alone and feel perfectly happy.
Every person will experience loneliness at any point in their lives. However, recent research by the Mental Health Foundation suggests that many people have been affected by a sense of loneliness due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing, especially young people between the ages of 18-24 years old.
Even though you know there are people who you can reach out to, you feel as though you’re alone and having to deal with everything personally. This loneliness is like a dark cloud that takes over your whole being and therefore, like depression, you isolate yourself more and don’t socialise or do the normal activities that you would normally do and enjoy.
Lilly – Mindsum Peer Support Worker
It is important to note that even before the global pandemic, UK-based surveys by the office for national statistics suggested that young people aged 16-24 years were generally most affected by feelings of loneliness, with 9.8 % reporting often “feeling lonely”.
Loneliness and mental health
Loneliness itself is not a mental illness, but it can have a negative impact on your mental health.
Research has shown that loneliness is commonly associated with depression. Feelings of loneliness can lead to depression and vice versa, depression can lead to feelings of loneliness.
You might feel like isolating yourself when you are feeling lonely, but this can lead to a type of self-fulfilling prophecy, that causes you to feel even worse.
If you are struggling with depression, you might also feel lonely, as low mood can cause you to have negative thoughts about yourself, others and the world and cause you to want to stay away from others. This can turn into a vicious cycle.
With whom or where to get help?
If you are struggling with loneliness, let someone know how you are feeling and how they can possibly help you.
If you are struggling to the point that you are having thoughts of hurting yourself, please call 999 as soon as possible.
Otherwise, you might want to:
- Call a friend to talk
- Talk to your parents/carers
- Talk to your school counsellor
- Invite someone out for a fun activity
- Join a local group or society to meet new people
- Contact the Samaritans to talk to someone
Find someone who you truly trust and know that you can be completely open and honest with and talk to them. I found personally, that opening up a conversation allows, not only yourself to feel better because you’re finally getting all the feelings and negative perceptions off your chest, but you’re also allowing for a friend, family member or even colleague to open up too. You never know who is also suffering in silence.
Lilly – Mindsum Peer Support Worker
Working with a counsellor or therapist can help you to recover from feelings of loneliness, especially if this is affecting your mental health. A professional can help you to confront what might be causing you to feel lonely, and guide you in learning to build more fulfilling social relationships and interactions.
You can book a free initial consultation with a qualified mental health professional through our online service.
Mental Health Foundation
You can access helpful information on loneliness and the coronavirus, including helpful tips on coping during this challenging time, on the Mental Health Foundation website. Click here to access the link.
You can access information and useful resources about loneliness on the Mind website. Click here to access the link.
You can read and access resources about loneliness on the Young Minds website. Click here to access the link.