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Young age groups more likely to feel lonely, says study

Jun 3rd, 2013 | By | Category: Latest News, News

LONELINESS AFFECTS almost 40% of young adults in New Zealand, according to a New Zealand Statistics survey, with young women in particular likely to feel alone.

Of the young adults aged 15 to 29 questioned, 18% felt lonely at least some of the time during the previous four weeks.

The figure climbs to almost 40% when the numbers are added in for those who felt lonely a little of the time.

The data is included in Loneliness in New Zealand, a report drawn from The General Social Survey of 2010.

The study has been released follows recent studies done in the UK about the severity that social isolation has on mental and physical health.

One paper has said that social isolation had the equivalent effect on health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day as well as having seven and a half standard drinks.

Victoria University psychology lecturer Paul Jose believes the reason that many young adults feel lonelier than middle-aged adults is they lack the reliable relationships that older people have.

“Many are still single or between relationships. They don’t have the companionship of a wife or husband.”

Dr Jose also says young adults experience “tension” in their relationships.

Changes to relationships both romantically and otherwise causes an unreliability which can make it easier for a young person to feel secluded says Dr Jose.

Young women in particular were prone to feeling lonely, being 39% more likely to than their male counterparts.

This unreliability of relationships also affects women more than men, according to Dr Jose.

“Girls are much more socially orientated. If [men] have nothing to do they might just stay at home and play video games while girls will want to do something with people.”

Hutt Valley High School counsellor Grant Shearer believes that girls are more likely to feel lonely because it is often their nature to stick with a select group of people.

“Girls tend to get into a tight-knit group of friends. You could say cliques.”

“Boys are a little more open to who their friends are,” says Mr Shearer.

Reports of people feeling lonely all, most or some of the time dropped as older groups of people were asked.

Young adults had the highest at 18% reporting loneliness, both groups in their middle ages – 30 to 44 and 45to 64 – reported 16% and all those aged above had the lowest levels reporting 11%.

“Understanding the groups most affected by loneliness, and the social factors strongly associated with loneliness, will provide an evidence base for policy makers and service providers to potentially tackle loneliness through either targeted or indirect interventions” the report said.

The study states that addressing loneliness as an issue in people’s health and well-being is being increasingly recognised in policy.

Social isolation has been identified as a factor in the development of suicidal behaviours.

This has been recognised in the new suicide prevention strategy released earlier this week by Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand.

According to the loneliness study one in three adult New Zealanders in 2010 had felt lonely to some degree in the past four weeks before being asked.

This would equate to just over one million people in New Zealand over the age of 15.

Those in the survey who had said that they felt lonely all of the time were just over 30% less likely to feel satisfied with their life than those that never felt lonely.

Surveys in the UK showed that 27% of adults there felt lonely all, most or some of the time which was 9% more than New Zealanders who felt the same.

Australia has had related surveys in the past and had a much lower rates than New Zealand or the UK with only one in ten people experiencing loneliness between 2001 and 2009.

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is a Whitireia student starting out in journalism.
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  1. Forever alone.

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