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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

RCPsych comments on MHF report 'The Lonely Society?'

Embargoed until 25 May 2010

Commenting on a new report, The Lonely Society?, published today (25 May) by the Mental Health Foundation, Dr Peter Byrne, associate registrar at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“The RCPsych recognises the importance of this study on the neglected topic of loneliness. We already knew the proportion of single occupant homes doubled from 6% in 1972 to 12% in 2008. Our stereotype of the older person, home alone, the “Eleanor Rigby”, is challenged by new information that the numbers of children calling a helpline who are lonely has increased by 60% in 5 years. This study highlights 17% of adults over 55 worry about loneliness, but this rises to 36% of adults under 35.

“We accept the figure that 1 in 10 people often feel lonely, and this has clear links with depression and other mental health problems. Clinical experience shows that the poorer a person’s social networks (for whatever reason), the more likely it is that mental health problems will occur and take longer to alleviate. Economic changes that disrupt people’s work-life balance and family life, and send people hundreds of miles for work, are likely get worse during this recession. Openness about being lonely, and vulnerable friends and neighbours, is an important first step.”

For further information, please contact:
Claire McLoughlin or Deborah Hart in the Communications Department.

Telephone: 0203 701 2544 or 0203 701 2538



The Lonely Society? was published by the Mental Health Foundation on 25 May 2010


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