According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, 45% of adults in England (or 25 million people) report they occasionally, sometimes or often feel lonely. The Marmalade Trust report that people aged 16-24 are now the most likely group to be affected by loneliness.
An epidemic of loneliness
Loneliness can be crippling and can affect both our physical and mental wellbeing. A top US health official, Vivek Murthy, recently declared that the country is facing an epidemic of loneliness and that loneliness can be as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The issue has been exacerbated by the Covid19 pandemic when people around the world experienced increased feelings of loneliness and isolation as their social circles shrank.
It’s normal to feel lonely – we are all hardwired to seek out human connection. Loneliness affects all of us at some point in our lives and yet there is a huge amount of stigma attached to loneliness. Some people worry that they are to blame or that they will burden other people if they talk about being lonely.
Loneliness isn’t just about being alone
It’s also a common misconception that only people who are alone experience loneliness. But we can feel just as lonely when we spend our days surrounded by friends, work colleagues and family. Loneliness can arise from feeling misunderstood or not seen by other people. It can also come from filling our lives with superficial interactions and not enough deeper connections – from believing that we must behave in a certain way, or that we can’t be our true self when we’re with other people. Talking to an experienced counsellor can help us to begin our journey to sharing how we really feel with people around us.
Loneliness Awareness Week (12-18 June) is organised by the Marmalade Trust, the UK’s leading loneliness charity, and is dedicated to raising awareness of loneliness. Will you join us this year by starting a conversation with someone you know about when you’ve felt lonely yourself? Together, we can break the stigma.