In January 2018, there was recognition in government that loneliness in Britain was a major problem and a Minister for Loneliness, Tracey Crouch, was appointed.
You can read more here.
The statistics, as reported in the article, are alarming to say the least: loneliness affects 9 million people, or a sixth of the UK population and 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with anyone in over a month.
If this was a physical epidemic, there’d be a national outcry and money poured into finding cures – but as it’s societal, it’s largely kept away from the media spotlight.
I’ve suffered from personal loneliness in the past. I was deeply unhappy with the situation on both occasions.
After completing my degree in Sunderland in 1986 , having had three years of social overload, I completed a PGCE in Leeds, where the bonhomie and company was poor, and then went straight to a job in an unknown town and a new school in Oldham, Lancashire and felt very isolated there. Time obviously improved social matters and I’ve not experienced loneliness again, until I went off with long term clinical depression in 2013 caused by a toxic workplace and a particular set of circumstances. I felt lonely then after the company of students and colleagues for almost 30 years. Read more here.
I’ve written before about the arable farmer who suffered from depression and loneliness which was only ameliorated by a switch to dairy farming. Paul, Richard and myself own dogs: Oscar, Ralph and Cassie and we can each testify to their social powers in previous posts.
I’ve read “Of Mice and Men” annually to classes it seems and loneliness was an issue in the 1930s as chronicled by Steinbeck – in that novella, George loves being with his autistic sidekick Lennie Small because it’s company. Same with Candy and his dog. Both though get shot in the head with Carlson’s Luger and the ending seems to hold little hope for George or Candy who are both left companionless and lonely.
People are social animals.
I’m gregarious and enjoy being round people – don’t get me wrong, I’m happy squirrelling away solo during the week on my freelance business, Get Pro Copy Ltd, but if I imagined that every day I’d be solitary (admittedly I got a dog last September) without family or social contact, I think I’d spiral into dreadful depression. Who wouldn’t?
Those 84 men who commit suicide every week in Britain – what causes that? Is loneliness a factor? I’d wager it is, along with depression and addiction.
The internet has made our lives better, sure, but I believe it’s come with a price. You’d look out of your window in my childhood and youth on Christmas Day and the streets would be awash with children playing on bikes and the like. Now it’s deader than a Tory’s heart.
Same now, away from Christmas, I walk Cassie daily and chat with people on the 3 mile woodland wander, that sits on my doorstep. Do I meet many people? Are the woods alive with families and children playing? No. They’re quiet.
I’ve no panacea for loneliness or depression – but I do know this, if 9 million are suffering from isolation and 200,000 never talk to another human in a month, something needs to be done – and fast.
Those statistics are damning.
Don’t you agree?
We welcome contributions from you about stress, loneliness, depression and addiction – you can submit your articles confidentially to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be published as Guest, with details changed to preserve anonymity, if you specify.