QMYOU Alumni Magazine Issue 85 - Page 16

Loneliness – Britain’s ‘last taboo’ A RECENT REPORT into the cost of loneliness estimated that 1.2 million people in the UK experience chronic loneliness. The ‘Campaign To End Loneliness’ is calling for the condition to be seen as a public health problem, like obesity and smoking. But, there is a reluctance to talk openly about the devastating impact of loneliness – and it means that this ‘last taboo’ remains both a serious and largely unshared complex problem for many. Firstly, we must understand that there is a difference between experiencing loneliness and feeling lonesome. Loneliness is a complex and usually unpleasant emotional response to perceived isolation. People who experience it are often anxious about their lack of connection and communication with others and can be fearful about how loneliness affects their current and future situation. The condition is often associated with our older population. Indeed, in 2016, the World Health Organization identified older people as being vulnerable to multiple social, psychological, and biological factors that can result in loneliness. However, in our fast-paced digital world, there is a growing awareness that the ‘loneliness epidemic’ is having a devastating impact on people’s health and wellbeing regardless of age or social class. Within the constraints of reduced resources and squeezed government budgets - where we are seeing an erosion of community spaces and services where there would normally be interpersonal exchange - how can we address this isolating human experience and prevent it from digging deeper into pockets of society? To address the list of health, 16 QMYOU / Social Sciences social and economic issues linked with loneliness, we must better understand the condition, its impact on individuals and on key population groups. Dr Olivia Sagan is Head of Division, Psychology & Sociology at QMU. Having researched mental illness throughout her career, she noticed that loneliness was a reoccurring theme in her work with mentally ill adults from all walks of life. She explained: “In one recent participatory research project I asked a group of mental health service users what they thought should be looked at in more detail. I was not surprised to hear them say: “what it is really like to be lonely”. “On researching the experience of loneliness I found it to be a complicated, deeply human experience, one not necessarily helped by having more friends or a busy life, and one certainly not ‘solved’ by having a million Facebook ‘friends’ or using Skype a ѥ%)аЁѕ͕ݽ͕ѡ͔)Չѥѕ́ȁյѕ̸%)ɥѽѡȁɅɽ)ѡ̰ѠѡɅ䰁卡)͕مѥՍѥ$ɕѡ)ɥ́ѡЁ)Q́ݽɬɽ՝Ёѽѡȁ)ձѥ͍ɕ͕ɍɕѱ)Չ͡Iѱɵ́ѡЁѼ)չхɕ́́ѡ(ЁݔѼɹ́ѡх)Ё䁽ɽմѠ)ͽɽ̰ͥЁɍѕ̰)ѥ̰Սѥ̰͕مѥ̰)́ͽ̻t)Iѱɕɑ́չѡɕ)Ѽѡѥéݕ؁ͅ)́ٔЁѡ́͡)ѼѡѱиQMѥٕ͠ɹ)͕Ё չѼхͽ)ͽѥ̰ݥѠɄ+ ᬁȁݕх͡ɽ́)ЁɉͽѥȁMٕ)ѡ䁥ٕ́ɑՔЁ͕́)Ѽ͕ѡչɕѕѽ݅ɑ)ձɅMɵ胊qQ)ͥ́ɕѥѡɴѡ)́ͽѥ͔Ё)Ѽ٥Յ́Ёͽ䁵ɔɽ今t)٥ɽ卡ɕ͕ɍ)Ʌѕ́ɕѥݕ)́ɅѠՕ́Ѡ)хͥݥѠɕЁՑ)ѡЁ́ɥ́)́ѡЁ͔́ɱ)Ѡ)ȁMՑ胊q]她䰁)ɕ͕ɍ́͡ѡЁѡЁձɅ)Ё́ɔ͕ɕ́Ѽѡ)̰͍ѡȁѠ)ͽɔݥѡɅ݅٥х)չɽ́ѡЁȁͥ)Ѽͼ丁]́)Ёɕѥєݕͽ)ɽչ̰ѡɔ́ՉЁ́)ɔЁɔѕ䁉ѡ͔ݡٔ)ѡЁ́ѥлt)ȁMéЁɕЁɕ͕ɍ)Ʌѕ䁍ɹ́Ёɽ)ձ́͡ɥѡȁٕɥ)́ɔ͕䁅Ё٥ݥѠѡ)ѕѕͥ́Aͽͽɑ+L䁵ѼѡЁ)ɥ̸͕́)ЁɔЁȁMéɕ)ɕ͕ɍ́ȁѕ)́٥ݥȁхɽѡ)E5TݕͥєܹŵԹլ