Siitting on the grass

Some Research on Loneliness and Mental Health

At the risk of repeating myself, I want to make two points about this recent research, both of which can be found in this section of the report:

Participants described how their loneliness and mental health were closely intertwined: “it’s a bit of a cycle. . . your mental health means you can’t connect to people, then not being able to connect makes your mental health worse and then you’re just cycling around.”

Participants also revealed how having a long-term mental health condition contributed to the deterioration of their social relations. Moreover, people reflected that poverty, stigma, and condition-specific symptoms increase self-isolation, social exclusion, and therefore, loneliness: “Because of my condition [‘borderline personality disorder’], I worry about having relationships with people and that keeps me isolated and keeps me lonely.” Similarly, negative thoughts and low mood isolated participants, exacerbating their existing mental health difficulties: “Loneliness can trigger depression in me, it can take me to a dark place”.

  1. We see again that the best thing you can do for someone you love is fight to stay connected with them. Include them in things. Continue communicating with them. Understand how much their mental health issue is pushing them away from you, and don’t take it personally. Respond by continuing to reach out to the best of your ability.
  2. Sometimes loneliness is part of mental health issues. The symptoms and self-stigma can exacerbate loneliness. Sometimes, however, it stigma about something else. Note the use of “poverty” in the second paragraph. Sometimes it’s not the mental health conditions. Sometimes people are lonely because they are isolated due to poverty, disability, or many other things that make them vulnerable.

Overall though, this is more evidence of how much our mental health suffers when we do not feel part of a community. We all can play a role in making sure our community is embracing people who need that social connection.

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