Loneliness is usually associated with having little contact with people. However, it doesn’t just occur when you’re on your own.

ReachOut Parents Youth Mental Health Young people can develop loneliness if they feel they have little importance or value in other people’s lives.

Loneliness can be a big problem for young people as it’s not always easy for them to find people they connect with or places to socialise.

People, people, everywhere…

It’s possible, indeed not unusual, to be lonely even when surrounded by people in a crowded room or at a party.

In this situation, the feelings can often be attributed to low self-esteem and feeling you’re not as good as others.

Times of change

Feelings of isolation are particularly common when someone’s going through a life change, like moving out of home or starting a new school or college.

During these times, people that are relied on for support might not be around and as the surroundings are different, a young person might feel they have nothing familiar to draw comfort from.

At ReachOut.com, we’re hearing that loneliness is more and more of a concern for young people, as they don’t feel they can connect with others.

Signs of loneliness

If loneliness starts to impact on a young person’s life, they might:

  • withdraw from the people around them
  • feel sad, unhappy or even depressed
  • lose interest in things they used to do
  • find it hard to concentrate
  • start to feel bad about themselves and lose confidence.

Supporting your son/daughter

Actively listen, don’t try fix the problem, instead encourage them to consider what’s causing these feelings and what they could do to improve the situation.

Talk to them about what they do and don’t have control over. Discuss the idea that you can’t change what other people do but you can change what you do.

Encourage new interests, to join clubs and sports teams etc. Aside from potentially making new friends, regular interaction with others can boost confidence levels.

Try to raise self-esteem and their general sense of self-worth.

Work on skills like conflict resolution, problem solving, and assertive communication. This can help them deal with problem situations in a constructive manner.

If things don’t get better

If your son or daughter has tried different things and can’t seem to shake the feeling of loneliness, they might be dealing with something more complex.

If they’re struggling with other feelings, like being really down, it might be worth talking to someone who can help in a more professional capacity. Often your GP can be a good place to start as they might be able to refer you to other suitable face-to-face support.

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