Loneliness is something we tend to associate with older people – family moving away and friends passing away reducing the social circle. Yet loneliness is something that increasingly affects younger people. Surprisingly, this includes students who even those who don’t do the typical “student lifestyle” still find university the most social period of their life. Also, it does not solely affect introverts feeling out of their depth in a new place.
How Bad is the Loneliness Problem?
Loneliness can affect anyone of any age. In a joint study involving the British Red Cross and Co-Op, it was revealed that some 9 million Brits are often lonely. Age, gender, and lifestyle were no barrier although it tends to affect older people much more.
- Distress at feeling nobody likes them or wants to spend time with them
- Proneness to physical illness
- Proneness to anxiety, depression, and other mental illness
- Feelings of suicide. There have been several high-profile student suicides in recent years
The research suggested that 46% of students – that’s almost half – felt lonely during their time at university. Despite the communal environment, university can be a desperate lonely place.
Why Do Students Feel Lonely?
There are several possible explanations for the high rates among students. It is the time when most live independently. Even if they are in a house share or HMO student accommodation, they are not surrounded by parents, siblings, and familiar peers. It’s natural and understandable and some students go to university thinking everyone else already knows each other and they’ve “missed the boat” on making new friends, so they become withdrawn.
Even for people who are social, loneliness can be an issue during the times they are not with fellow students or friends.
Some Tips for Tackling Loneliness
What can you do to tackle loneliness? It may seem a bit of a cliché, but the key is to get involved.
A Part Time Job
Some universities frown on students getting jobs and would prefer they did not engage in employment. For some students, not working is out of the question for financial reasons. Working in a warehouse or in a supermarket means you get plenty of human connection.
A Society for Every Interest
For some students, the idea of signing up for any society is the most terrifying thing of all. Yet there are societies for virtually everything at most universities around the country. There are groups for readers and writers, faith groups, disability interest, LGBT communities and much more.
Explore the New Home
If you spend your time going from university to your digs and back again and never explore the local community, university will feel desperately lonely. Being away from your hometown can be a scary time, but if you immerse yourself in the new area, it and the people who live there – will feel like home.