A new Relationships Australia survey has found that close to one in four women and one in three men did not have someone to help them out if they were in need.
“It’s a concern that so many people feel they have limited social connections or help when they really need it,” Alison Brook, National Executive Officer, Relationships Australia said.
More than 2,500 people responded to the online survey which was available on the Relationships Australia website over the month of October.
“The survey results show that we really need to be thinking about how we can be supportive of friends and family, as well as neighbours and colleagues. Sometimes a simple ‘how’s things’ can be enough to make people feel cared about,” Ms Brook said.
The risk factors for loneliness and social isolation include being widowed or separated, childless, living alone, experiencing deteriorating health or significant life events such as loss and bereavement. Other factors include age and low income, particularly for women. Loneliness for men has been found to generally increase with ageing, while loneliness for women generally decreases as they age.
The survey also found that close to 90 per cent of both men and women felt better after talking with someone. Around three quarters of the 2,500 survey respondents said they agreed with the statement that they ‘often felt very lonely when feeling down’.
“Feeling lonely or socially isolated is often associated with poor mental, physical and socio-economic outcomes for people,” Ms Brook said. “Adolescents who do not have close friendships and good social networks consistently report lower levels of self-esteem, are likely to be unstable and are at higher risk of suicide. People who are socially isolated, or have limited social support, are also at greater risk of developing coronary heart disease.”
Relationships Australia launched the monthly survey program in October to take a snapshot of how Australians are feeling about important issues related to families, community connection, relationships and mental health. The survey is self-initiated and accessed via the Relationships Australia website. The October survey focused on loneliness and social isolation and the November survey is looking at families and ageing.
More than 2,500 people responded to the Relationships Australia’s online survey during the month of October, 2014. Almost 80 per cent of survey respondents identified as female, with women outnumbering men in every age group. Almost 90 per cent of survey respondents were aged between 20-59 years. The peak response category related to women aged from 30 to 39 years.
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