By challenging common myths about loneliness, we can help tackle the stigma that’s often attached to it.
Myth: You only feel lonely when you’re on your own
Truth: Feeling lonely isn’t the same as being alone.
Although social isolation may cause some people to feel lonely, people can also feel lonely when they're surrounded by friends or family, in a relationship or even in a crowd of people. Loneliness can be a feeling of disconnection rather than a reflection of your social circle.
Myth: Young people rarely feel lonely
Fact: It really doesn't matter how old you are. Loneliness can affect people at any age and most people will experience it at some point in their life.
Myth: It’s obvious when somebody is feeling lonely
Fact: Loneliness isn’t always easy to spot.
You never know what’s going on underneath the surface. People can appear chatty, well supported and active on social media but still be experiencing loneliness. Although there are sometimes signs a person may be struggling, the only real way to know if somebody is feeling lonely is to talk about it.
If you think someone you know is feeling lonely, here are some tips on how you can support them and help ease that loneliness.
Myth: Talking about loneliness is embarrassing and people won’t understand
Truth: Loneliness is something lots of people feel – it should never be anything to be ashamed of. If you feel lonely, talking about it with someone you trust might help – it might even help them too.
Let’s all speak more openly about loneliness and the impact it can have. Don’t forget, sometimes a friendly chat can make all the difference. If you think somebody might need to talk, we’ve compiled some listening tips to help you give the best support you can.
It's OK if you're not an expert – just listening can help someone work through what's on their mind.
What do we mean when we talk about loneliness?
We’re talking about feeling disconnected and alone - to the point it affects your mental wellbeing.
There’s a difference between wanting to spend time alone and feeling disconnected from the people around you. You can feel lonely at any time in your life, it can come and go or stick around for a long time. You can feel it in a crowd of friends or by yourself. It can sometimes be triggered by big life changes, like, bereavement, retiring, starting university, moving, relationship breakdown or sometimes it can have no specific trigger at all.