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Loneliness and Social Isolation

Loneliness & Isolation

Anyone can be affected by loneliness which can impact on your mental health. Older people especially are at risk of suffering from loneliness. According to Age UK, over two million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, and more than a million older people go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour, or family member.

However, loneliness can affect anyone. People can become socially isolated for many reasons, such as injury, age, no longer being the centre of the family or social group, leaving the workplace and retirement, the death of a spouse, family member, or friend, or due to a disability or existing mental health condition, such as social anxiety or Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD).

Research has found that people who experienced long-term social isolation were at an increased risk of depression, heart disease, strokes, alcoholism, drug abuse, and the onset of dementia, than those who had regular social contact.

Loneliness among the young

In 2010, a survey by the Mental Health Foundation found loneliness to be a problem among young people. It found 18-34 year olds were more likely to feel lonely, worry about feeling alone, and to suffer from depression due to loneliness than over 55s. One factor found in loneliness among the young was heavy use of social media, particularly the tendency to present an idealised version of their lives online. As a result, often comparing their friends’ seemingly perfect lives with their own, leading them to withdraw socially.

Support groups available are:

  • Samaritans (116 123) offer a free helpline of confidential advice and support.
  • The Mix (0808 808 4994) is a confidential helpline, specifically for under 25s.
  • Charities such as Mind (0300 123 3393), the Mental Health Foundation (020 7803 1100) and Relate (0300 100 1234) all offer on-the-phone support and advice.

Reducing the effects of loneliness

  • Socialise whenever you can. Even if it’s just a short conversation with the cashier at the supermarket, or the person next to you in the waiting room at the dentists
  • Invite friends or family over. You may feel they don’t want to visit you, especially younger relatives, but they will appreciate an invitation to spend some time with you
  • Simply having a chat with a relative or friend over the phone can be a good way to reduce the stress of being alone
  • Learn to use computers. If your friends and family live far away, services such as Skype, FaceTime, Viber, Facebook, and Twitter can help you keep in touch
  • Get out and about. One advantage of being older is public transport is better value. Add the link to the Getting Out & About section
  • See what groups and activities there are in your local area add link to the Community Directory.

Pets & Loneliness

A study carried out by the Mental Health Foundation and Cats Protection in 2011 found that 87 percent of those who owned a cat felt it had a positive impact on their wellbeing, while 76 percent said they could cope with everyday life better than before, because of the company their cat provided. Half of cat owners felt their cat’s presence and companionship was the most helpful factor in their wellbeing, while a third described having a cat as a calming and helpful activity.

Caring for a pet can also make you feel valuable and needed, as you are responsible for the care of another. Dogs especially are effective at this, as they require daily walks and a lot of attention.  Walking a dog often leads to conversations with other dog owners, and can help you to stay socially connected with the world.

Friendship Calls and Social Groups

  • There are many groups and charities who can give you a friendship call from a volunteer who enjoys talking to older people.
  • For further information you can call:

  • The Silver Line - 0800 470 80 90
  • Independent Age - 0800 319 6789
  • Age UK - 0800 169 2081
  • Friends of the Elderly - 020 7730 8263
  • Community Network (020 7923 5250) brings people together on the phone each week to talk as a group.
  • Contact the Elderly (0800 716 543) is a charity that hosts regular, free, Sunday afternoon tea parties for people over the age of 75 who live alone. You can be collected from your home, and driven to a volunteer host’s home for the afternoon.

Useful Resources

Age UK York

01904 627995

Action for Happiness

NHS live well

Samaritans York

01904 655 888 – local call charges apply

116 123 – free of charge

York Mind

01904 643364

York Relate

01904 625971

The Mix

Freephone 0808 808 4994

The Silver Line

0800 4 70 80 90

Independent Age

Helpline on free phone 0800 319 6789

Contact the Elderly

Freephone 0800 716546

York Neighbours offer 3 types of support,  help with practical one off jobs, a regular phone call and individual and group outings. For more information contact them at:-

York Neighbours
The Raylor Centre
James Street
YO10 3DW
Telephone: 01904 891627

They are open 9am to 3:30pm Monday-Friday. At busy times you may get their answerphone but leave your name and number and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Ways to Wellbeing – Connects people to local community support to make them feel better.

York Mind - Offers a range of services one of which is a mental health & wellbeing activities programme.

Complementary Healthcare in York

You can find many providers of complementary healthcare by searching on line but here are just a few:

Wellbeing in York-

York Natural Health -

York Clinic -

Northern Acupuncture College and Clinic 

Please note that we are not specifically recommending these organisations.

Why not check what community activities are available in your area through the Live Well York Community Activities Directory?

Last reviewed: 22/10/2019