Mental health struggles of millions due to loneliness; let’s break the silence
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 11, 2023
Loneliness can take a toll on our mental health, affecting millions of individuals worldwide. In the UK alone, a quarter of adults (25%) admit to feeling lonely either some or all of the time over the previous month. However, what’s concerning is that many individuals choose to suffer in silence.
The Hidden Struggle of Loneliness
A sense of shame surrounds loneliness, with a quarter of UK adults (25%) feeling ashamed about being lonely. Additionally, over one-third (35%) say they would never confess to feeling lonely. The effects of loneliness are far-reaching, with feelings of sadness and worry impacting half of those surveyed. Alarmingly, 12% of UK adults admit to experiencing suicidal thoughts due to their loneliness. These statistics highlight the urgent need to address this issue and break the stigma surrounding it.
The Impact on Mental Health
Loneliness is a significant public health concern, as it can lead to anxiety, depression, and increased thoughts of suicide. The longer an individual feels lonely, the greater the risk of experiencing poor mental health. Recognizing the severity of this issue, the Mental Health Foundation is calling on society and the government to take action.
The Foundation’s Chief Executive, Mark Rowland, emphasizes that society must overcome misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding loneliness. By addressing stigma and providing support, we can create an environment where individuals no longer feel ashamed about their loneliness.
Groups at Risk
Certain groups are more vulnerable to loneliness, including young adults, individuals with pre-existing mental health problems, and individuals from minority ethnic groups. Furthermore, those in later life, particularly those who are digitally excluded, are also heavily affected by loneliness. It is crucial to acknowledge these disparities and tailor interventions and support accordingly.
The Power of Conversations
Mental Health Awareness Week, organized by the Mental Health Foundation, provides an opportunity to raise awareness and foster conversations about loneliness. By sharing our experiences, we can connect and break the silence surrounding this issue.
This year, the Foundation invites everyone to participate by sharing their experiences of loneliness using the hashtag #IveBeenThere. By engaging in these conversations, we can create a supportive environment and combat the negative impact of loneliness on mental health.
Addressing Loneliness on a National Level
To combat loneliness effectively, the Foundation recommends that the government address the chronic underfunding of public health. This can be achieved by restoring the Public Health Grant to previous levels and incorporating commitments to tackle loneliness in the new 10-year Mental Health strategy. It is crucial to recognize and prioritize the needs of groups that are at higher risk of experiencing loneliness.
Mark Rowland highlights the importance of policy changes and investments to reduce loneliness and improve connections between individuals. By implementing these measures, we can collectively make a positive impact on mental health.
The Mental Health Foundation’s report, “All the Lonely People: Exploring the Hidden Realities of Loneliness and Mental Health,” delves into the different experiences of loneliness among UK adults. The report provides detailed policy recommendations for England, emphasizing the need for a fairly funded public mental health approach that caters to the unique circumstances of different groups.
For those seeking help and advice on coping with loneliness, the Foundation offers online resources to guide individuals through their journey.
Loneliness affects millions of people worldwide, exacting a toll on mental health. By breaking the silence and addressing the stigma surrounding loneliness, we can create a supportive society where individuals feel comfortable seeking help and support. Let us join hands, share our stories, and take action to ensure that no one suffers alone.