Loneliness soars during the pandemic
The widereaching impact of the pandemic is highlighted in a new report which found more than a quarter (27 per cent) of Australians experienced loneliness for the first time during COVID.
Telstra’s Talking Loneliness report revealed almost two in five (38 per cent) Australians said they had never felt lonelier than they have in lockdown.
The report also found:
・Four in 10 Australians regularly feel lonely
・Nine in 10 Australians have experienced loneliness, with almost half (48 per cent) too embarrassed to admit it
・More than half (54 per cent) of Australians say they ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ lack companionship
・A quarter (24 per cent ) of Australians don’t feel they have anyone to talk to, with Gen Z (32 per cent) and Millennials (26 per cent) the most likely age groups to feel this way, and
・More than a third (35 per cent) of Australians admit they rarely or never feel like they are part of a group of friends.
The stark statistics prompted the telecommunications giant to call on the community to start a conversation about loneliness and work together to combat it.
The research was conducted for Telstra by YouGov in September 2021 in consultation with leading loneliness researcher and clinical psychologist Dr Michelle Lim.
It highlights the growing issue of loneliness in Australia and explores its impact on individuals, communities and society at large.
Dr Lim said loneliness was the next public health crisis facing Australia.
“Loneliness, when persistent or severe, hurts our health, communities, and society,” she said.
“If you feel lonely, it is important to understand that your feelings are normal. Take small feasible steps towards managing your loneliness.
“You don’t always have to make more friends to be feel less lonely – look within your current network and consider how you can improve the quality of those relationships.”
Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said the pandemic has had a huge impact on mental health by accelerating the widespread issue of loneliness.
“As a company with connectivity at the heart of our purpose, we are shining a light on loneliness and its impact,” Mr Penn said.
“Sadly, there are many people in our community who are reluctant to speak up about something that is having significant consequences – it could be your brother, neighbour or workmate and you may never know.
“That’s why we wanted to challenge the preconceptions about who might be lonely and to encourage Australians to find a sense of connection through their shared experience.”
The report also shared how respondents attempt cope with their loneliness which included engaging in a hobby (49 per cent), exercise (40 per cent), playing with pets (31 per cent), by calling or texting someone (43 per cent) or reaching out to a loved one (34 per cent).
Mr Penn said Telstra had released a series of first-person videos, created a dedicated hub with resources and support tools, as well as donating more than 100,000 hours of paid volunteer leave to enable its staff to contribute to eradicating loneliness through third-party specialist programs.
For more of Dr Lim’s advice on tackling loneliness, head to the Telstra website.
For mental health support services contact Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636, Lifeline 131 114 and Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.