Loneliness and Mental Health Awareness Month

In a recent survey by the BBC, it was found that people aged 16-24 are the most likely to experience loneliness. The survey was conducted with over 55,000 participants and it found that just under 40% of participants aged 16-24 feel lonely often or very often. This is a staggering result after the prevailing assumption was that older people experienced loneliness the most.

As the first few weeks of university become reality, and the excitement of fresher’s and independence wears off – it is easy to feel lost and lonely in a new place without your friends and family. Students at the University of Leeds have shared what they have found most difficult in the first few weeks of university and what they have done to help. With Mental Health Awareness Day has shed light on the importance of sharing stories and breaking down the stigma of mental illness or even just feeling down.

“I have struggled with antisocial flat
mates… it can be boring and made it very
hard to enjoy fresher’s week. To make this
better I joined societies and tried to find
friends in my accommodation who were
not in my flat”

“Being away from home and home
comforts have been very difficult. I have
also felt a little lonely. But I have been
feeling better by keeping busy, joining
societies and planning things with

“I am struggling to be away from my
family since they live in Mexico and there
is also a significant time difference. I also
miss my dog so much! I looked for support
with my friends, especially my roommates.
I try to talk to them as often as possible.”

“Being in the flat by myself and only
sitting in my room, I try to sit in the
communal space in the flat. My flatmates
and I always sit together in the evening
and eat together

Even more people shared their experiences, with the key themes being:

  • Missing boyfriends/girlfriend
  • Missing friends/family
  • Missing pets
  •  Worried about work
  • Feeling like I am missing out and others have made friends and I have not
  • Playing up mental illness in stressful situations
  • Worried about making friends, succeeding – being liked
  • Having to be at university despite problems at home

Interestingly, most people shared the same worries, so you are never alone, even if it seems
like it. Being away from home is a big step for everyone, and it can be difficult. University is
a great experience, however, with people constantly saying that university will be the ‘best
years of your life’ it can create a pressure, leading to some people feeling that their experience is
not good enough, and that they are the only one feeling this way, which can lead to a
the feeling of loneliness.

Ellie Dyer