I’m a psychologist – here are five key things you need to know about loneliness

Whilst there is an increase in discussion around loneliness, stigma still remains.

To mark Loneliness Awareness Week (10-16 June) – an initiative by the Marmalade Trust which aims to raise awareness of loneliness across the UK and beyond – psychologist, Dr. Katy James, has shared five important points we should all understand about loneliness.

Dr. Katy James, mental health clinical director at Vita Health Group, says: “Loneliness impacts the lives of millions of people every year and is a considerable factor of poor mental health. Although awareness around loneliness has increased, there remains a widespread stigma around it. We can help to tackle this stigma by challenging and clarifying common myths around loneliness.”

1/ Most people will experience loneliness

Loneliness is a universal human experience. We are inherently social beings wired for connection – loneliness serves as a signal that we need more meaningful interactions.

Regardless of age, circumstance, or background, most of us will encounter loneliness at some point in our lives. However, loneliness does manifest differently for each individual.

2/ Loneliness is not just something older people feel

When we imagine a lonely person, the stereotype often features an older individual living alone and rarely interacting with others. While it’s true that loneliness can affect some older adults, recent studies reveal surprising differences across age groups.

According to the BBC Loneliness Experiment, 27% of individuals over 75 reported feeling lonely often or very often. However, the highest levels of loneliness were observed among 16-24 year-olds, with a staggering 40% experiencing frequent loneliness.

3/ Loneliness is not a mental health condition, but it can have a tangible impact on mental health

Loneliness is associated with an increased risk of depression. Individuals who feel consistently isolated are more vulnerable to developing depressive symptoms.

Research studies have provided evidence for associations between loneliness, anxiety and depression in young people. Addressing loneliness early can help prevent these mental health challenges.

4/ Meaningful relationships are essential for our wellbeing

Regular social interactions provide emotional support, reduce stress, and enhance our overall quality of life.

5/ Loneliness is highly stigmatised, but we can work together to change that

By openly discussing loneliness, we can break down the stigma associated with it. Recognising and acknowledging loneliness allows us to seek the support we might need and build meaningful connections.

How to support someone who you think might be lonely

Dr. James says, “Remember, loneliness affects us all and it’s important we support one another. Let’s foster connections, break down barriers, and work towards a world where no one feels truly alone.”

If you suspect someone is lonely, Dr. Katy has shared five ways you can support them.

Reach out: Initiate conversations and check in regularly. A simple message or phone call can make a significant difference.

Be present: Spend time with them. Whether in person or virtually, your presence matters. Engage in activities together or simply listen to what they have to say.

Encourage social activities: Suggest you take part in a group activity together, such as a craft club or an exercise class. Connecting with others who share similar interests can help to alleviate loneliness.

Help to build connections: Introduce them to new people or invite them to social gatherings. Sometimes, a gentle nudge in the right direction can result in them developing meaningful friendships.

Empathise: Understand that loneliness is a valid emotion. Show empathy and validate their feelings without judgement from your side.Remember that different people will want to socialise to different levels. Don’t expect that someone will want to socialise in the same way you do.

Dr. James concludes: “If you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s important to seek professional support. Book an appointment with your GP or refer yourself to an NHS talking therapies service. Know that you are not alone and there are qualified professionals who can help you.”

About Lisa Baker, Editor, Wellbeing News 4482 Articles
Editor Lisa Baker is a professional writer and the owner of Need to See IT Publishing. However, Lisa is also passionate about the benefits of a holistic approach to healing, being a qualified Vibrational Therapist. Lisa also has qualifications in Auricular Therapy, Massage, Kinesiology, Crystal Healing, Seichem and is a Reiki Master.