5 Ways to Combat Loneliness in Young People

Mental Health Awareness Week this year is set to shine a spotlight on the sad reality that children and young people in the UK are feeling lonelier than ever.  

Loneliness and mental health are closely linked, many people with anxiety and depression feel lonely and loneliness and isolation can lead to mental health illnesses.  A YouGov poll (2019) of 13-19-year-olds found 69% said they felt alone “often” or “sometimes” in the last fortnight and 59% feel like they “often” or “sometimes have no one to talk to". The survey also reported that 88% Britons aged from 18 to 24 say they experience loneliness to some degree, with a quarter suffering often and 7% saying they are lonely all the time. In contrast, 70% of those aged over 55 also say they can be lonely to some extent, however, only 7% are lonely often and just 2% say they are lonely all the time. Loneliness, an emotion normally associated with the elderly, is spreading to our children, and it is clear they urgently need our help.

It is important to note that this survey was conducted prior to the Coronavirus pandemic and the mental health implications of the pandemic are now being widely reported. Young people have suffered years of isolation and loneliness, the effects of which now need to be reversed. 

So, what can you do to support young people in your school community?

1. Start the Conversation

It is important to start the conversation about loneliness, perhaps during tutor time or during a PSHE class. By starting the conversation, you give young people the chance to reflect on their own well-being so they can seek support or make changes independently. 

2. Encourage Participation in School Clubs and Societies

Joining a club or society or taking up a new hobby is often cited as a way to prevent or overcome loneliness. Do you have any after school/lunchtime clubs that are on offer at your school looking for new members? Could you place a list of school societies on your classroom noticeboard, so your students are aware of the opportunities available to them?

3. Use Free Resources

The Red Cross have created free resources for teachers to tackle loneliness in children aged 7 -18. Activities include podcasts, videos, animated films and characters aimed to reduce loneliness. The resources are suitable for primary and secondary learners. You can also download a Red Cross Kindness Pack which is filled with activities to encourage children and young people to be kind to each other and provides coping mechanisms that young people can use to combat negative feelings and emotions. 

4. Engage with Parents

Parents may recognise that their child is struggling with loneliness and or other mental health issues but might not be sure how to help their child. Young Minds who have a dedicated parent's helpline and web-chat service which offer advice and support to parents who are worried about their child’s mental health. 

5. Refer to a Specialist Support Service

The Mix is a specialist charity that provides free and confidential support to under 25’s on a variety of issues. 

Shout 85258 provide a confidential text messaging service and service users can speak to a volunteer anytime. Conversations are monitored by trained clinicians to ensure users safety us paramount. 

6. Seek Support for Yourself 

If you are struggling with the emotional toll of supporting young people, then you can access support via Education Support. Call free on 08000 562 561 to speak to a qualified counsellor. They will offer you immediate, confidential support.

Sources https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/projects/peer-education-project-pep/schools-resources/loneliness-finding-our-connections-feel-less-lonely-school-pack 

If you are looking for tips on how to help young people to recognise their feelings and emotions, process their worries and learn good coping mechanisms, then read our blog by guest blogger Liz Miller, written for Youth Mental Health Day

Comments are closed