Almost one in four adults have experienced feelings of loneliness under the current coronavirus lockdown, according to a new study.
The study by the Mental Health Foundation found that feelings of loneliness have more than doubled since the lockdown period began last month.
According to the charity, 24% of UK adults saying they have felt loneliness during this period.
For people aged between 18 and 24 years old, that figure rises to 44%. The next most affected group were adults aged between 25 and 34 years old, with more than one third (35%) saying they had felt loneliness as a result of coronavirus.
And one in six older people aged over 55 said they had felt lonely as a result of coronavirus, according to the study.
More than 2,200 were surveyed as part of a project being led by the Mental Health Foundation in partnership with the University of Cambridge, Swansea University, University of Strathclyde and Queen’s University Belfast.
‘Our data reveal that millions of people in the UK are experiencing feelings of loneliness – which is a key risk factor for developing or worsening mental health problems,’ said the Mental Health Foundation’s director, Dr Antonis Kousoulis.
‘The concern is that the longer the pandemic goes on, the more feelings become long-term. The impact of long-term loneliness on mental health can be very hard to manage.
‘While the initial priority must be to prevent loss of life, we fear that we may be living with the mental health impacts of the coronavirus situation for many years to come. This is especially true of vulnerable groups and it is critical that governments and others are mindful of this in developing policy as we go forward,’ added Dr Kousoulis.
Professor Tine Van Bortel of the University of Cambridge commented: ‘It might feel surprising but what our research shows is that the group most likely to be experiencing these feelings are young people.
‘It is worrying that close to half of them said they are concerned about feeling lonely, and special attention should be given to young people. However, we shouldn’t forget that loneliness is also clearly affecting very large numbers of people of all ages.’
The research comes after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge backed Public Health England’s new COVID-19 mental health campaign.
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