A Student Guide to Loneliness

This guide is aimed at students aged 16+, it explores loneliness and the links to mental health and provides tips for students together with ideas of how to get involved and raise awareness in communities, at school, college or university.

Loneliness is the negative feeling we have when the relationships and connections we have with others are not what we want.

Loneliness is something that most of us will feel at some point in our lives, but there are certain factors that put some at a higher risk of loneliness than others.

Full-time students are among those at higher risk of feeling lonely, during the pandemic, 26% of students reported feeling lonely often or always, compared with 8% of the adult population. And although that figure decreased as restrictions eased (22%), it still remained much higher than loneliness levels in adults (6%).1 Even before the pandemic, 88% of Britons aged from 18 to 24 said they experience loneliness to some degree, with 24% experiencing often and 7% saying they are lonely all of the time.

By highlighting loneliness and its impact on mental health, we hope to reduce stigma and support more people who are lonely, or at risk of loneliness.

“It's a bit poetic or ironic, but I hope people bonding over loneliness will bring people together” MHF Young Leader

Mental Health Foundation’s U OK? project is based in colleges, sixth forms and universities. Using the same peer-led delivery as our Peer Education Project, older students deliver mental health workshops to younger students; supporting them through the transition out of statutory education and into higher education and the world of work.

The U OK? project worked with students at participating universities and the MHF Young Leaders to create this student guide.

Support for Students

Student Space – one-to-one support for whatever challenge you are facing, designed for students. Text STUDENT to 85258. The Mix  - a UK-based charity that provides free, confidential support for young people under 25. Young people can get support from the trained team, either by phone, webchat, or email 

  • Shout 85258   - a free, confidential, 24/7 text-messaging support service.
  • Samaritans   - a UK-based charity that provides support at any time, from any phone for free. Call free on 116 123 or email [email protected].

1 ONS (2021) Coronavirus and higher education students: England, 15 April to 22 April 2021