We often think being alone is something to fear. Yet it has been an integral component in the lives of many of our greatest thinkers. Are we more real when we are alone and perhaps also more alive?
For many people, however, isolation is a clear and present danger. In old age, found The Conversation, many people experience a decline in their physical health, which can mean they are less confident about getting around and socialising as they used to. Loneliness affects over a million older adults across the UK; over half of people aged 75 and over live alone, and one in ten people over 65 say they always or often feel lonely. And there’s evidence to show that feeling lonely can cause existing physical health problems such as frailty or chronic pain to get worse.
But while awareness has grown about loneliness among older people, far less attention is given to how it affects young people. An NSPCC reportrevealed that in 2016-17, Childline counselled over 4,000 young people about loneliness. Students are affected too, with almost half admitting to feeling lonely during their time at university. Indeed, a recent survey of university students suggested that loneliness is the leading predictor of mental distress.