Loneliness in Australia
What is loneliness?
Loneliness is a distressing or unpleasant feeling that can occur in response to a lack of meaningful connections. It is possible to feel lonely even if you have people in your life, as you may be seeking more satisfying relationships.
Loneliness is not uncommon. A recent report1 from Ending Loneliness Together found that:
- 1 in 3 Australians feel lonely.
- 1 in 6 Australians are experiencing severe loneliness.
- 31% are ashamed when they feel lonely.
- 58% who feel lonely don’t talk to others about it.
Understanding loneliness and its impact on mental health
The effects of loneliness can negatively impact your mental health. Loneliness has been associated with an increased likelihood of depression and anxiety2. The State of the Nation Report on Social Connection in Australia reported that people who are moderately lonely are:
- 4.6x more likely to have depression than people who are not lonely.
- 4.1x more likely to have social anxiety than people who are not lonely.
- 5.2x more likely to have poorer wellbeing than people who are not lonely.
Research from Swinburne University3 also suggested that loneliness was associated with more mental health symptoms. Their research looked at the impact of COVID-19 on loneliness, which found that one in two Australians reported feeling lonelier since COVID-19. While those who reported feeling more lonely at the start of the pandemic also reported higher social anxiety and more depression.
Tips to help you manage loneliness
What can you do if you feel lonely? We’ve gathered some tips below to help you get started. Remember that making meaningful connections can take a while, so give it some time and don’t be hard on yourself.
Find a sport you like and join your local sports club. Joining a club is a great way to meet new people who have a similar interest to you. We have shortlisted a few options to get you thinking – click the links below and enter your location to find a club near you.
Volunteer to connect with people and be active in your community. If you’re unsure where to start, visit your local council’s website community section, check out the noticeboard at your local library, or see if your favourite charity has volunteer opportunities.
Join a local group or activity to connect with people near you. The Ending Loneliness Directory can help you find connections online or in your local community. Type in your suburb to see what’s close to you.
Make the time for meaningful connections. Make that first step to reconnect with friends who you haven’t seen in a while. You can arrange to meet up in person or give them a call. If you are scrolling online, instead of just liking a post on social media, send your friend a direct message.
Connect to support services online. If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of meeting new people, there are support services you can reach out to help you feel more connected. Here are a couple of examples:
- Friendline is for anyone 18 years and older who needs to reconnect or just wants a chat. It is a service run by volunteers.
- eFriend is a virtual peer support service for people 18 years and older who are feeling low, lonely, or isolated.
If you are struggling with loneliness and need to reach out to a mental health professional, our CAREinMIND counsellors are here to help 24/7. Call 1300 096 269 or click the floating chat button on the right. The service is free for people in north, western and central Melbourne.
1. State of the Nation Report – Social Connection in Australia 2023 https://lonelinessawarenessweek.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/state-of-nation-social-connection-2023.pdf
2. State of the Nation Report – Social Connection in Australia 2023 https://lonelinessawarenessweek.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/state-of-nation-social-connection-2023.pdf
3. Survey of Health and Wellbeing – Monitoring the Impact of COVID-19 https://www.swinburne.edu.au/media/swinburneeduau/research-institutes/iverson-health/Loneliness-in-COVID-19-15-07-20_final.pdf
The CAREinMIND blog is delivered by Lifeline. The views in each post do not necessarily reflect those of North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network.