Loneliness is a “serious” public health concern that most commonly affects young people in Britain, according to a study from the Office for National Statistics.
Analysis of 10,000 responses to the Community Life Survey found that 10% of young people reported they “always” or “often” felt lonely - double the response from any other age bracket.
One of the main reasons given by the report authors is that people become “more resilient to loneliness as they get older”, possibly through the “experience of significant life events and life transitions”.
The survey found that one in 20 people across the UK reported feelings of loneliness.
Izzi Seccombe (Con), chair of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “The harm loneliness can cause, both physically and mentally, can be devastating to people of all ages - it is a serious public health concern which studies suggest can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
Cllr Seccombe, also leader of Warwickshire CC, added that councils’ abilities to affect the loneliness rates are limited.
“Councils can only do so much,” she said. “We all need to be on the look-out for each other, which could be as simple as a quick visit to check on a neighbour, who could be a young mum without any family nearby, or an older person living alone.”
The government promised it would announce a number of new initiatives in response to recommendations from the Jo Cox commission on loneliness report. The commission said its report that “tackling loneliness is a generational challenge that can only be met by concerted action by everyone - governments, employers, businesses, civil society organisations, families, communities and individuals all have a role to play.”
The chief executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence said in an article for LGC in February that council commissioners could help by identifying and building on local initiatives that counter the effects of loneliness.
The minister for loneliness Tracey Crouch said in an interview in March that the “rise of technology and changes in the way people interact with each other” had contributed to feelings of loneliness among young people.
Action for Children gives advice on how young people can combat loneliness.