If you think someone might be lonely, there are things you can do to help ease some of those feelings.
Around 3 million people in England said they felt lonely often in the last two years. Loneliness is different for everyone and there are no rules for when or how a person may experience it.
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.
Although there are sometimes signs that someone may not be OK, it can be difficult to recognise when someone may be lonely. The only real way to know if somebody is feeling lonely is to talk about it with them.
If you think somebody might need to talk, trust your instincts and strike up a conversation. Simply being there for someone can help. You can ask how they’re feeling or if there’s anything you can do to help. Talking with someone about how they are feeling can help put things into perspective. Often just knowing there is somebody there to listen can bring some relief.
Let them know that feeling lonely is completely normal. Remind them that there's support available at samaritans.org or through our self-help app.
Remember, people who a’re experiencing loneliness might find it hard to connect at first, especially if they have been feeling lonely for a long time. Take time to check in on them and remind them you’re there if they need you.
Once someone starts to share how they’re feeling, it’s important to listen. Try to listen without offering advice, comparing what they’re going through with your own experiences, or trying to solve their problems.
It's OK if you're not an expert – just listening can help someone work through what's on their mind. Our SHUSH tips on how to be a good listener can help.