Loneliness linked to depression in over half of young Scots- new research
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 11, 2023
Disclaimer: This article discusses sensitive topics such as suicide, loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Please read with care. If you are struggling, seek professional help. Contact information can be found at the bottom of this page.
Loneliness has emerged as a significant factor contributing to mental health issues among young people in Scotland, warns the Mental Health Foundation. Surprising as it may be, more than 50% of 18 to 24-year-olds experience depression when they feel lonely. Additionally, 42% report heightened anxiety as a result, while a staggering 67% say their mental health spirals downward due to their feelings of isolation[^1^].
The Unreported Loneliness Epidemic
While loneliness among older adults is widely acknowledged, its impact on younger generations often goes underreported. In light of Scotland’s “Year of Young People” in 2018, the foundation is sounding the alarm, highlighting the alarming number of young adults wrestling with mental health problems. A mental health storm looms unless we prioritize mental well-being in the school curriculum[^1^].
The Dark Side of Technology
New research indicates that technology, particularly social media, may exacerbate social isolation. It’s concerning that a significant 30% of young people attribute their feelings of loneliness to social media, which has replaced face-to-face interactions[^1^]. However, the study also reveals that 82% of young adults find that spending time with others in person improves their mental health. These findings emphasize the importance of fostering real-world connections in an increasingly digital age[^1^].
Breaking the Stigma, Seeking Help
One major obstacle preventing young people from seeking help is the stigma associated with loneliness. Shockingly, almost half (46%) say they would feel too embarrassed to talk about it, while over half (52%) believe they should be able to handle their loneliness on their own[^1^]. Alarming statistics show that around 30% would not even consult their general practitioner or another healthcare professional, suggesting a significant number of undiagnosed mental health issues among young Scots[^1^].
Loneliness: A Catalyst for Mental Health Problems
Loneliness can have severe consequences for mental health, including stress, anxiety, depression, paranoia, and cognitive decline. It also represents a well-known risk factor for suicide[^1^]. Recognizing the importance of addressing this issue, the Mental Health Foundation welcomes the Scottish Government’s commitment to establishing a Youth Commission on mental health. The foundation also supports the government’s plan to publish a national strategy to combat social isolation during this parliamentary term[^1^].
According to Isabella Goldie, Director at the Mental Health Foundation, loneliness among young people is a deeply underestimated problem. She emphasizes that social isolation has a more significant impact on the mental health of younger individuals compared to other age groups. Goldie highlights the crucial role of strong relationships and social connections in nurturing mental well-being. Building effective communication skills and promoting healthy relationships from early education is vital. Moreover, addressing the mental health of parents and teachers is crucial, as it directly affects the well-being of young people[^1^].
To truly make 2018 the Year of Young People, it is imperative that health and well-being become central to the school curriculum, rather than treated as a secondary concern. Investing in school-based counseling and providing teachers with the necessary training to create inclusive environments and address mental health issues is essential. Without swift action, countless young individuals will continue to suffer, and an impending mental health crisis awaits[^1^].
Notes and Assistance
The research mentioned in this article was conducted by YouGov in Scotland[^1^].
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[^1^]: Source: Mental Health Foundation