Impact of Loneliness on Young People’s Wellbeing

Updated 2021

In 2015 ACEVO (The UK’s largest Network for Charity and Social Enterprise Leaders) launched ‘Coming in from the Cold’ – a report on loneliness among young people in London. We are delighted that Worth-it featured as a case study in this report. Although this work took place a few years ago it has significant relevance today due to the impact the pandemic has had on the loneliness levels of young people. Causing significant isolation and a deterioration in face to face communication skills for many young people.

Feeling lonely and isolated with a no one to talk , not feeling heard or listened to has as significant negative impact on young people’s levels of wellbeing and can lead to the development of longer term mental health problems.

There has been little in-depth research into the experience of loneliness and how it impacts young people. This issue of loneliness for young people has significantly increased due to the impact of the pandemic and lockdowns.

The loneliness young people experience that was highlighted in the 2015 report was a ground-breaking attempt to begin this process. It uses London as a test case and focuses on those aged 16 to 32 years, examining the causes of loneliness among young people and proposing solutions to the related problems. Our work was presented as a proactive case study of approaches that help prevent loneliness for younger teenagers, which could prevent the onset of these problems for older young people.

Estimates show that the health, crime and unemployment costs, which in part can be associated with loneliness, amount to £34.5 billion. The damage done by loneliness to young people themselves can range from poor physical and mental health, a suppression of future job/earning opportunities or a drift into criminal activity.

Main Findings of the ‘Coming in from the Cold’ Report

Some of the main findings to come from the report are detailed here:

  • 48% of 18-24 year olds say that they often feel lonely
  • Young Londoners are roughly twice as likely to be lonely as the national average
  • Women and ethnic minorities are significantly over-represented among lonely young Londoners
  • Those going through a ‘life transition’ – leaving home, entering the world of work or falling in to the category known as ‘NEET’,  starting or leaving university, the failure of a major relationship or becoming a parent are more likely to be experience loneliness
  • 53% of young people have felt depressed because they felt alone

I don’t get as angry as much any more, I talk to people more which has helped me with my friends and not feeling on my own.

Micheal Worth-it Programme Participant aged 14

Recommendations of the Report

  • Increased monitoring of loneliness through the Office for National Statistics
  • Loneliness incorporated in local authorities strategies for engagement with young people
  • The adoption of the Scottish Government’s ‘Getting it Right for Every Child and Young Person’ (GIRFEC) outcomes framework
  • A Deputy Mayor for Young People to ensure strategic oversight of youth service provision and to promote the interests of this often overlooked demographic
  • A Mayor’s Fund for Young People’s Resilience and Inclusion worth £3.2 million to help ensure that young people have built the necessary strong social connections

Worth-it’s Approach to Preventing Loneliness in Young People

We work with schools, organisations, and communities to help people learn, develop, and use skills that improve mental wellbeing.

Among the many services offered by us we have also developed an innovative, evidence-based positive education programme for young people to help them develop essential skills to improve communication skills and strategies for wellbeing, which help address loneliness.

Our Wellbeing Ambassadors programme is a targeted intervention that has been co-produced with young people and is underpinned by positive coaching psychology. It helps develop communication and interpersonal skills for a group of young people who can then support peers in schools or settings feel that they belong and have someone to talk to. As part of this programme young people learn effective skills that improve interpersonal skills and strategies to develop positive peer relationships that are essential for young people to feel belonging and connection.

Our goal is to lead a sustainable systemic change to a more proactive, preventative approach to improving young people’s mental health and wellbeing. You can access our training enabling you to run our Wellbeing Ambassadors Programme and support the young people you work with prevent lonliness.

How do you develop the SEARCH in your school?
Yellow dotted line

Access our free example course

Three illustrated smiley faces