Loneliness as a mental health risk factor

loneliness... 1 in 4 Australians are lonely

How is loneliness affecting your mental health?

5.6 million Australians report feeling lonely on a regular basis – that’s 1 in 4 of us.

66% of people seek friendship as the primary remedy to loneliness.

Did you know that loneliness increases mortality risk by 45 percent, more than alcohol abuse at 37 percent, and obesity at 23 percent?

Did you know that loneliness is a greater risk factor for your health than smoking 15 cigarettes per day?

Dr Lissa Rankin gave a Ted Talk in 2016 on loneliness as a primary risk factor of health problems

Is she right? She draws from a body of research that identifies relationships as a significant protective factor for preserving health and wellbeing. From what I’ve experienced most often in my 14 years of clinical practice is that the clients who experience the most difficulties with resolving their emotional difficulties are those that are disconnected from their loved ones and have a poor social network, or alternatively, their current relationships are toxic and keep them stuck in a pattern of illness. Some people t, therefore,ack the necessary social support to make the changes necessary to improve their circumstances and their outlook on life.

Synergy, by definition, is the interaction or cooperation of two or more agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. As human beings, we are innately social creatures – we are specifically engineered to seek out social connections and relationships. We know that without love, affection and intimacy that infants will fail to thrive. This is no different for us as adults – we need connection as a life source.

Knowing this, how do we help each other move forward to become the best version of ourselves they can be, especially when a loved one might be dealing with a major stress or mental health problem that might cause them to withdraw or have difficulty connecting? Ideally, we will be helping and supporting ourselves and others to form meaningful connections and creating a future purpose

We are social beings and without meaningful connections,

our purpose in life becomes one of survival,

rather than of flourishing.

Some of the ways you start to create meaningful connections and increase your social networks can be:

Yes, you may well need to put on your brave pants to take action and make some changes, but you will be thanking yourself for doing so in the long run!

Big love,

Dani xo