Loneliness during coronavirus
Page last reviewed: 06 January 2021
One of the feelings millions of us are experiencing during the current coronavirus pandemic is loneliness. In our combined efforts to stay safe and save lives, our usual ways of seeing family, friends or just familiar faces have been put on pause.
What to do if you are feeling lonely
- Try calling a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor to talk about your feelings.
- You could also contact Samaritans, call: 116 123 or email: [email protected] if you need someone to talk to.
- Join an online group or class that focuses on something you enjoy – that could be anything from an online exercise class, book club etc.
- Consider going for short walks in public places (while keeping a two metre distance).
This is a challenging and sometimes lonely time, but it will pass. There will be lots of hugs, shared pots of tea, parties and celebrations in the future. For now, let’s be as kind as possible to ourselves and others.
Helping others who might be experiencing loneliness
One idea is to get in touch with someone who lives alone or might not have many relatives or close connections to check in on them. A message or a phone call could make a big difference to someone who hasn’t heard from anyone in a while.
If it’s a neighbour, you could even share something you’ve baked with them - at a safe distance! If you know someone who struggles with technology, now could be a good time to talk them through setting up something like Skype or Zoom at home. This could make a huge difference to their social interactions in future.
We’ve come up with some more ideas for random acts of kindness during the Coronavirus outbreak.
How lonely are UK adults feeling?
According to a survey* of UK adults which took place nine months into Covid-19 restrictions ( late November) one in four (24%) adults in the UK said they had feelings of loneliness in the “previous two weeks”.
How does loneliness affect our mental health?
Many of us feel lonely from time to time and these short-term feelings shouldn’t harm our mental health. However, the longer the pandemic goes on for, the more these feelings become long-term.
Long-term loneliness is associated with an increased risk of certain mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and increased stress. The impact of long-term loneliness on mental health can be very hard to manage.
What can we do to prevent loneliness?
We have written a guide to nurturing relationships during Coronavirus with lots of different ideas for keeping in touch.
You are not alone
Remember, no one is exempt from feeling lonely at times. All of us, at some point or other during this coronavirus pandemic, will feel cut off from our loved ones. However, some of us will have greater access to technology than others, or more social connections.
By caring for each other, checking in on people who are more isolated, or even volunteering for a helpline, we can help prevent a loneliness epidemic.
For more ways of looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak check out our Coronavirus advice hub.
* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4,436 UK adults 18+. Fieldwork was undertaken between 26th and the 30th November 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
The Mental Health Foundation is committed to bringing readers reliable and relevant information. All of our pages are written and regularly reviewed by our mental health experts, in line with official advice on the coronavirus outbreak.
We need your support to keep providing vital information during this time.
Public Health England have developed explicit guidance on mental health in the crisis. If you want to develop a personalised plan for supporting your mental health you can also visit the PHE Every Mind Matters site, developed in collaboration with the Mental Health Foundation.
If you need to talk confidentially you can call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time. We also have a resource on how to get help for your mental health.