Almost a quarter of adults living under lockdown in the UK between March and April said they had experienced loneliness, raising concerns about the long-term risk of the pandemic to mental health, a charity has warned.
The Mental Health Foundation in its Longitudinal Study of 2,221 UK adults concluded that almost a quarter (24%) of UK adults had felt loneliness because of coronavirus. More than four in ten (44%) of young people, aged 18-24 years, had felt loneliness, and feelings of loneliness had more than doubled during the lockdown period.
The next most affected group was adults aged 25-34, with more than a third (35%) saying they had felt loneliness as a result of coronavirus. One in six older people, aged over 55, said they had felt lonely as a result of coronavirus, according to the study.
Foundation director Dr Antonis Kousoulis said: “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.”
The research came as the government in April launched a public health campaign to tackle loneliness and social isolation during the coronavirus outbreak and period of social distancing.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said he wanted to get people talking more openly about loneliness and that loneliness would be a priority category of the government’s £750m charity funding package.
It also published guidance for individuals on supporting themselves and others safely and rolled out a #Let’sTalkLoneliness public health campaign.