3 months ago

Following our popular blogs on Teenagers and Screen Time & Sexual Health: teens to adults, we continue our focus on teen health and wellbeing covering the subject of teenage loneliness.

During covid, reported loneliness reached an all time high, although we have since seen a slight decline, loneliness is still prevalent in our community with 36% of all adults experiencing loneliness on a weekly basis. One in four teens reportedly feel lonely most of the time. In Regional Australia, this is even higher with 62% of young people reporting feelings of loneliness in 2022 (headspace).

Despite young Australians being more connected than ever before, loneliness and feelings of social isolation are on the rise. More than half of young people are worried or concerned about being lonely, with 82% of those recognising it is having a major or moderate impact on their mental health.

“As a young person, loneliness comes in a lot of different shapes and sizes but it is quite prevalent.”

(SBS)

Feelings of isolation and loneliness are highest amongst young females, LGBTQIA+ young people and those living outside of metro areas. Big life changes including finishing school and transitioning to further education or work can compound feelings of loneliness. 

headspace CEO Jason Trethowan said loneliness is a public health issue that needs attention, and that young people and their families should take steps to prevent this especially at holiday times when young people can feel even more disconnected.

Loneliness can impact self esteem, mental and physical health outcomes. Psychological distress, depression and anxiety are closely linked to feelings of loneliness, setting off a negative cycle which can then affect physical wellbeing, due to struggles with exercise, sleep and outdoor activity.

Although loneliness is something everybody feels and feeling lonely sometimes is ok, when it’s happening all the time you might need some extra support.

Ways to reduce loneliness

Start small, but try to get support to return to the things you love and value.

  • Talking to someone, whether that’s with someone you know, or through engaging with a support service like Reachout, headspace or your GP, it’s important to share how you are feeling with others and access support.
  • Exercising,
  • Spending time with family, friends and pets,
  • Getting outside,
  • Reading,
  • Find an activity or club you can join,
  • Volunteering.

Ashley De Silva, CEO of Reachout – a not-for-profit that offers online mental health support services specifically for young people,  said loneliness is an issue people are regularly seeking support for. It’s really important to encourage young people to reach out for support and talk about feelings of loneliness they may be having. Also to encourage teens to take time to try out different ways of meeting people and developing meaningful connections.

Reachout offers A safe place to chat anonymously, get support, and feel better. From free peer chat to an online community of support. It also has a great resource for parents on How to help your teen when they’re feeling lonely and isolated

When your teenager is shutting themselves away in their room, refusing to join in family activities and is being generally withdrawn, it’s hard to know what to say or do to help them. The two greatest supports you can offer are to: strengthen your own connection with them and help them to connect with others.

“Loneliness is a really common feeling, and I think most people tend to disregard it and don’t want to admit they’re lonely”.

(SBS)

If you are experiencing feelings of loneliness, know you are not alone and there are people ready to support you. If you know someone who may be experiencing loneliness, reach out to them and help support them with one of the ideas above. A quick check in call or in person visit to let someone know you are thinking of them, an invite to join you in an activity (going for a walk, coffee, reading a book at the same time) can make a huge positive impact.

 “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

(Maya Angelou)

Our GP’s are here to support you. To discuss your health and wellbeing, call us on (02) 6654 1282 or pop in to the surgery to book your next appointment.