What is loneliness
We all get lonely sometimes. Loneliness is a normal emotion like being happy, angry, sad or excited. Everyone feels it from time to time and everybody’s experience of loneliness is different. You don’t need to be physically alone to feel lonely. You might be surrounded by your family or classmates, but it can feel like you’re on your own or that no one understands how you feel.
Loneliness is less about the number of friends you have and more about how you feel about those you socially interact with. Some people are very happy to spend a lot of time alone, while others may be part of a large social circle but still feel lonely and isolated.
Feeling lonely can also affect your overall mental health, especially if these feelings have lasted a long time. It can make you feel anxious or depressed and give you low self-esteem and confidence, sleep problems and increased stress.
What causes loneliness?
There are many different reasons for feeling lonely but there are some times in our lives where it could be worse. For example
- moving school
- changing year group
- moving to a different neighbourhood
- if relationships change
- leaving home for work or further education
- if your family life is disrupted
- if you have lost someone close to you
There are also certain groups that are at greater risk of loneliness. These include:
- young carers
- those living with a disability or long-term illness
- the LGBTQ+ community
- those in care
- young people who are bullied
What can help?
Thinking about what is making you feel lonely may help you find a way of reconnecting and reaching out to other people in a similar situation to you.
There are things that can help if you feel lonely:
- tell someone you trust how you feel
- get support from a trusted organisation
- get advice about building confidence and self-esteem – this can help you feel confident when you meet new people and focus on stuff you like about yourself
- join a club or group where you can meet new people – this could be a sports team, music class, book club or even a safe online forum group for a new hobby.
- volunteering is a great way to meet new people with similar interests and ideas. It can also boost your confidence and your skills . There are lots of great opportunities from helping with litter picks to pen-pal schemes.
Remember to start small – it can be difficult to put yourself out there.
Community First Yorkshire have launched their latest campaign ‘Stand Up to Loneliness’ and have produced a range of resources to support anyone suffering from loneliness:
- Campaign resource pack
- It’s okay to feel lonely – poster 1
- It’s okay to feel lonely – flyer 1
- It’s okay to feel lonely – poster 2
- It’s okay to feel lonely – poster 3
- It’s okay to feel lonely – poster 4
Getting More Help
If you feel that your loneliness is impacting on your day to day life, then it’s important that you speak to someone that you trust; this might be family and friends, or a teacher, mentor or school counsellor or your GP. If you find it difficult to talk about how you are feeling, you could write them a letter or send them a text. Support is also available through Childline, Compass Phoenix and Recovery College Online.
Getting Urgent Help
If you’ve seriously injured yourself or taken an overdose call 999 or get immediate medical advice from NHS 111.
If you are in a crisis and feel like you can’t cope, speak to somebody straight away. Search below for help or see the Urgent Help page for contact details for the North Yorkshire single point of access Crisis Service.
Some things you might find useful
Mind provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
Mostly for 16’s and over, their website has a wide range of information, tips and experiences of loneliness.Visit Mind Call 0300 123 3393