According to data from Campaign to End Loneliness and the Office of National Statistics, one million more people in the UK are experiencing chronic loneliness now than before the Covid-19 pandemic.
This brings the overall number of people who say they often or always feel lonely to 3.3 million people.
Their research found that there are five main contributing factors to chronic loneliness, which are: low income, being single and living alone, having a long-term disability, and having recently experienced prejudice.
This highlights that some of the most lonely people in our society are also some of the most vulnerable.
Additionally a poll from Life Search found that 32% of British people lost an average of four friends over the course of the pandemic, and 55% of those aged 18 to 34 lost five friends.
Loneliness can impact your health
According to the NHS, chronic loneliness can increase the risk of conditions such as dementia and mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety, low mood and depression.
They also state that there are different types of loneliness but no matter which one sounds like you, you should not blame yourself for feelings of loneliness or any difficult emotions.
The three main types of loneliness are:
- Emotional Loneliness – a lack of emotional attachment to someone like a close friend or partner
- Social Loneliness – a lack of friends to go out with or who share our hobbies or interests
- Existential Loneliness – a sense of being in a room of people you know and still feeling alone
How to combat loneliness
The mental health charity Mind provides helpful tips and advice on combating loneliness, but recommends that whatever you try to do, make sure it’s something that you’re comfortable with and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
It’s important that whenever you’re recovering from any mental health condition, you take your time with yourself and stay patient. If something doesn’t work for you, try a different thing! What works for others may not be for you.
- Taking it slow – don’t feel you need to rush into face to face socialising if it feels daunting. Instead try online activities that don’t necessarily require participation
- Try befriender services or online communities where you can meet people facing the same struggles that you are
- Looking after your mind and body by avoiding drugs and alcohol and eating a healthy die
- Contact Mind for support
These tips and more are available on the Mind website.
Feeling lonely doesn’t mean being alone, and support is available to you.
Additional help and support:
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
- CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.
- The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email email@example.com