Loneliness Awareness Week (14-18 June)

This year, Loneliness Awareness Week will take place from 14 to 18 June.

Hosted by the Marmalade Trust, it is a campaign that raises awareness of loneliness and gets people talking about it.

Find out more here and how you can get involved.

In 2020 the campaign reached around 271.5 million people – all without leaving our homes. The campaign saw almost 20,000 charities, organisations, companies and individuals get involved online.

Lockdown Loneliness on Rise for Military Community

Services’ charity SSAFA says its helpline for Forces personnel past and present – and their families – has seen an 80% increase in calls during the pandemic.

Its free and confidential Forcesline service saw requests for befriending and support from those feeling isolated by lockdown rise dramatically, with more than 300 people turning to the charity for help.

Forcesline acts as a ‘front door’ to the wider support services offered by the charity and beyond. The helpline can act as a telling indicator for the overall well-being of the military community: currently serving (regulars and reserves), veterans and their families.

The Forcesline team say that the other most pressing issues throughout the pandemic have been:

  • Mental health;
  • Urgent assistance with food;
  • Emergency need for housing;
  • Lack of human contact; and
  • The breakdown of relationships.

If you think the helpline could be useful, it is available 9am-5pm Monday to Friday on freephone 0800 731 4880 or via a live webchat service at ssafa.org.uk/forcesline.

Reference

Navy News. (2020) Lockdown Loneliness on the Rise. Navy News. October 2020, pp.27.

Psychological Distress & Loneliness

In a survey of almost 1,500 US adults, McGinty and colleagues (2020) studied levels of psychological distress using the Kessler scale and levels of loneliness.

They compared the distress levels with national data from 2018. In 2018, the prevalence of serious psychological distress was 3.9%. In April 2020 it was 13.6%.

The authors note a worrying implication of these findings – that, since the Kessler scale is predictive of serious mental illness, the distress during the pandemic could transfer to longer term psychiatric disorders.

This is not outside the realms of possibility, especially since the social and economic impact of the pandemic is expected to be felt for years to come.

The authors should be commended both for their methodology and for their upfront discussion of its limitations – namely the potential for sampling bias.

People might have been more likely to respond to such a survey in April 2020 compared with 2018; therefore, the 2020 figures could be an overestimate.

Reference

McGinty, E.E., Presskreischer, R., Han, H. & Barry, C.L. (2020) Psychological Distress and Loneliness Reported by US Adults in 2018 and April 2020. JAMA. 324(1), pp.93-94. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.9740.