Loneliness can affect us all in different ways, it does not discriminate across class, gender or race.
An individual may feel lonely through a number of factors including bereavement, bullying, mental health and moving away from home. If it is left to manifest, loneliness can lead to serious depression and even suicide.
According to mental health charity Mind, loneliness is not considered a mental health issue, but the two are strongly linked.
The national organisation, which has offices in the local area, explains that mental health problems can increase chances of loneliness and feeling lonely can bring on mental health issues.
Mind states that feelings of loneliness is exactly the same as feelings of hunger, loneliness is the body’s way of telling us that we need social interaction and human contact.
According to a study by the National Office of Statistics; younger adults in the 16-24 age bracket are more likely to suffer from loneliness than any other age group.
Furthermore in 2016-2017, 5% of the UK’s population reported feeling “always lonely.” This called for the government to begin work on the so called loneliness crisis, to get people back to a comfortable state of mind.
Overcoming loneliness can mean different things to different people. For instance, what works for one person may be another person’s worst night mare.
Mind suggest a number of ways an individual can overcome overpowering feelings of loneliness. Making new connections may be positive for someone. If a person is feeling alone and they go to a new activity or social environment, it can help them feel less isolated.
Charities such as Age UK put on many events to involve people feeling lonely and encourage them to get back on the right tracks.
According to a survey by Age UK, one in ten elderly people feel constantly lonely.
In the local area, Age UK Middlesbrough run activities such as “Friendship Fridays” to encourage elderly people to make friends and discuss their experiences whilst playing bingo and socialising with others in a similar situation.
Charities encourage people to participate in voluntary work in order to fight loneliness. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) worked with woman such as Hilary, 53, who was mourning the sudden loss of her husband.
In an interview with BHF, Hilary opened up about her strong feelings of loneliness and how she fought it.
She said: “I felt like I had no reason to get up in the morning. I only got up because my daughter Rebecca’s rabbits still live here, and they couldn’t feed themselves.”
After being unemployed for 30 years, suffering from depression and then coping with the loss of her husband – Hilary took up volunteering at her local British Heart Foundation shop in Essex and has been there a year.
She said: “If it hadn’t been for the BHF, I don’t think I could have coped. The shop has helped so much.”
“I’ve learned so much! I’ve been trained in using a till, how to tag items and how to do the banking. I’ve found out I’m quite good with customers.”
Another way mental health organisations such as Mind encourage fighting feelings of loneliness is through opening up to people.
It may be very difficult for some people who are isolated as they have no one to talk about their issues to, but experts suggest seeking help from a Doctor is the best idea in that scenario.
By making connections with new people, individuals feeling lonely finally have the chance to confide in people they trust as well as like minded people who will understand exactly how they feel. Many GP surgeries across the country offer Talking Therapy which encourages people to talk to a medical professional about their thoughts and feelings.
The therapy allows people to have a safe space where they can be open about their feelings, help release unwanted feelings including loneliness and help change someone’s negative mind set.
Lisa Turnbull, a teaching assistant from County Durham, participated in counselling after losing her Mother and then her partner in the space of five years.
She said: “Opening up is the best way. When I lost my Mam I was part way through a my own counselling course.”
“I found the practical aspect brilliant as it gave me a chance to speak openly with no prejudgement.
“I also wrote a blog before blogging was really a thing, which really helped.
“I wrote it by hand but have never looked back at it
“But speaking to friends has always helped. I’m open about everything.
“My friends and my daughter got me through it as well. Talking is definitely the best therapy.”
There are many different ways to help people recover from feelings of loneliness and fight off inner demons.
Help is out there to help people fight back and get the attention they need to combat their loneliness.
There are many organisations that help with loneliness across the entire spectrum but all have the same message – it can be normal to feel lonely and it is more than okay to speak out about how you feel. It may encourage others to do the same.
If you’re suffering from the feelings shared above and need help or know someone who does, here are some helpful links:
Video credit: British Heart Foundation
Trainee Sports Journalist, TU Xtra Presenter