Don’t leave loneliness alone

After six months of COVID-19, Uniting Communities is encouraging South Australians to respond to R U OK? Day and reach out to someone they haven’t seen for six months. This can help to maintain and rebuild connections lost in isolation.

Loneliness can have major health and wellbeing impacts; indeed, research suggests that loneliness is likely to have a greater negative health impact on our society than obesity or smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. Fifty-four per cent of South Australians feel lonely often or sometimes.

‘It is now six months since COVID-19 shutdowns began in Australia that have, necessarily, increased isolation of people, with an associated increase in loneliness for some people. So, six months on from the arrival of COVID-19, we are urging South Australians to reach out to someone they haven’t seen in the last six months. Connection builds resilience for individuals, families and communities,’ said Uniting Communities Chief Executive, Simon Schrapel.

Interviews with people across the state have identified five strategies that help to overcome loneliness:

1. Be proactive: amongst all the mechanisms utilised to overcome feelings of loneliness, the enactment of proactive behaviour was perhaps one of the strongest in getting the better of negative emotions.
2. Create structure: this enables focus and purpose to occupy time.
3. Seek strategies to improve self-esteem and confidence: people who are better connected with their feelings and better understand themselves are better at adapting to poor emotions and have more clearly outlined strategies in place.
4. Build support networks: get involved with community groups if family and friends are not available. Seek ideas to build connections.
5. Help others: often, loneliness is viewed as a weakness. Work towards supporting others and developing genuine care and accountability for people – reach out to other people.

‘Not everyone can solve their loneliness alone, which is why reaching out to other is important and using the support services that are available,’ added Mr Schrapel. “We are proud of the proactive work of our services to help overcome loneliness.’

Lifeline is available 24/7 on 13 11 14 for anyone experiencing crisis. The SA COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line can be reached from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week on 1800 632 753.

For media comment
Simon Schrapel AM
Chief Executive
0411 643 132

Mark Henley
Manager Advocacy & Communication
0404 067 011