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Nottingham counsellor releases major new study into loneliness

Nottingham counsellor releases major new study into loneliness

A major new survey aimed at uncovering the root causes and prevalence of loneliness in adults across the East Midlands has revealed some surprising results.

The study, carried out by Counselling West Bridgford, run by UKCP-accredited psychotherapist Michelle Briggs, asked a series of questions to determine exactly how widespread the issue is.

Michelle received almost 1,000 responses. She found that men in the 25-34 age bracket and women aged 18-24 were the most likely to feel lonely. The survey also found that men felt lonelier than women across all other age groups apart from 18-24.

The study used 20 questions, based on the UCLA Loneliness Scale, to establish a ‘loneliness score’ for each participant. Questions covered a range of subjects, including friendships and relationships, isolation and emotions.

The average loneliness score across all age groups was 68%. However, the top three questions threw up some interesting statistics.

When asked ‘how often do you feel that no one really knows you well?’, the average score for men and women across all age groups was 79%, and was the question that most contributed to loneliness.

When asked ‘how often do you feel that people are around you but not with you?’, the average score was 77%. And 82% of respondents answered ‘sometimes’ or ‘always’ when asked ‘how often do you feel left out?’.

In general, in the 18-34 age group women said they found it harder to ‘feel part’ of a group of friends, while more men admitted they found it hard to find companionship when they needed it most.  Also, 85% of people felt that ‘people are around them, but not with them’ some or all of the time and women were generally more open about their mental health than men.

Counselling West Bridgford was launched in 2020 by Michelle Briggs, who has an MSc in Experiential and Person-Centred Psychotherapy and began her counselling career in 2015. She is on the counselling team at Nottingham Trent University and provides counselling support through Employee Assistance Programmes, working alongside a network of other UKCP-accredited psychotherapists.

Michelle said: “I was overwhelmed by the large response I got to the survey, which gives real weight to the findings and shines an interesting light on some of the issues associated with loneliness that might not be immediately apparent.

“While we tend to connect loneliness with feelings of sadness and emptiness and often associate it with older people, this survey shows it affects younger people a lot more than we might think and is an extremely complex issue.

“Loneliness can manifest in myriad ways, including anger, addiction and anxiety. So, gaining a better understanding of its root causes can help people to manage their emotions better, be more open and honest about the way they are feeling, create more connections and seek help when they need it.”

The complete data analysis is still being carried out. Michelle is writing a full report which will be shared with her academic colleagues at several universities to help shape future support for people experiencing loneliness.

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