A young person talking to a trusted adult outside on a bench.


A young Black woman in a wheelchair and an older Black woman sitting on a bench in the park. They are laughing together.

It’s normal to feel lonely sometimes, or to experience feelings of isolation. If you feel this way, it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. There is support available, and things you can do to help with this feeling.

Anybody can experience loneliness regardless of age, gender, race, sexuality or anything else. If loneliness is affecting you and your mental health, remember there is support out there and there are things you can do to help.

What is loneliness?

We all need to feel connected to other people. Loneliness is the unsettling feeling we get when this need is not being met. We might feel like this because we're not having much contact with other people, or because the contact we are having doesn't feel meaningful to us.

But loneliness is different from being alone. For lots of people, being alone does not cause loneliness or feelings of isolation. Many people choose to spend time alone or don’t feel the need to have many social relationships. Whereas for others this can be a lonely experience. We're all different, which is what makes us unique. When it comes to loneliness, it’s all about what feels right or wrong for you.

Loneliness is not a mental health problem, but it can start to affect our mental health. Experiences of loneliness can make us feel sad, depressed, or give us feelings of low self-esteem. Having a mental health problem can also make you more likely to experience loneliness. Sometimes, if we are already struggling with our mental health, it can feel difficult for us to interact with loved ones in the way we usually do. This can then make us feel isolated and lonely when we didn’t feel this way before. But life doesn’t have to be this way; if you’re feeling lonely, there are things you can do to feel better.

A group of students wearing school uniform sit at their desks in a classroom and write in their textbooks.
As a young teenager, all I wanted to do was fit in, yet my decisions caused me to become an outsider. I’d never felt more lonely.

When you might feel lonely

There are certain times in your life when you might be more likely to feel lonely. This might be when things are changing in your life, such as moving to a new city, a relationship or friendship ending, or a bereavement. Sometimes you can feel lonely even if you are around lots of people in a social situation, or if you have lots of friends – especially if you feel like the people around you don’t understand you. But remember that lots of people experience loneliness for lots of different reasons, and there are things you can do if social isolation is affecting your mental health.

You might experience loneliness when you:

  • start a new school, university or place of work and are finding it hard to make friends
  • go through something that your peers haven’t or are unable to relate to
  • feel very different from your peers or people around you
  • aren’t able to do the things you see others doing
  • are struggling with your sexuality or gender identity

Social media

Social media can also make you feel lonely and isolated, especially if you are being bullied or feel disconnected from the ‘perfect lives’ you see.

Even if you have loads of followers, it can feel like everyone else is surrounded by friends and loved ones and having a good time; this can make things feel much harder when you are feeling alone and not sure who to turn to for support. But remember that what you see on social media isn’t always real.

Two people walking and talking on the street.
I wish I had understood that school is not the only chance of making friends and that there would be other opportunities to make friends. Friendships change and people grow apart and that is okay – especially when you are young and growing and finding out about yourself and what you like and what you want to be.
Hannah, 20

Things you can do to stop feeling lonely

Spending time alone might not seem fun, but the more time you spend doing things you enjoy and being kind to yourself, the more confident you will feel. It’s okay to have time just for yourself.

It is important to have ways to express yourself, even if right now you don’t have people close to you who you can talk to. Keeping a journal can help you to track your mood and reading over it might help you to see things that keep happening in your life which you might need some help with. Some people like to express themselves through drawing, painting, music, fashion or sport.

You don’t have to be good at something to give it a go and enjoy it. A regular hobby with other people can help you build new friendships and have fun. It can feel really nerve-wracking to turn up to a new place, especially if the people already know each other, but you’re likely to find people who are very happy and willing to help you settle in. If you feel anxious about meeting new people, read our anxiety guide.

Guide to anxiety

This can be a great way to increase social interaction while also learning a new skill and giving back to your community. It can help you to feel good about yourself and meet people passionate about the same things as you. Vinspired have lots of volunteering opportunities which you can search for according to where you live.

When you’re feeling lonely, it can be hard to find friends who get you or can relate to your experiences. In these times, you may find it helpful to reach out to people on social media. Sometimes building an online social network can help. We know that for some people, social media can be an isolating experience, but for others it can be a way to connect and make new friends.

If there is something you absolutely love there will be other people out there who feel the same. Whether that’s an online fan forum or a local writers’ group, find ways to connect with the things you love and you might be surprised about what opportunities that leads to.

Talk to someone you trust. It could be your parents or wider family members, like older cousins, aunts or uncles. Outside home, it could be a teacher, a neighbour, a faith leader or a close family friend. You can also speak to your GP about how you’re feeling. They can listen, tell you about local services and support groups, or they may suggest specific treatment for the way you’re feeling. It can feel scary talking to someone about feeling lonely, but remember that most people have experienced loneliness at some point. For support, take a look at our guide to reaching out for help.

Reaching out for help
A young Black man sitting on the ground in the park and staring into the camera.
There have been times at university where I've felt homesick and lonely. In my experience, the reality of being away from your family and friends sinks in when you're alone in your room. I think it's very important to have some strategies in place from the beginning to help manage homesickness and loneliness.
Laura, 20

Real stories about loneliness

Two girls sitting together at a park bench with their friends. They are both laughing and one is looking at her phone.
The people who matter will accept you just the way you are and those who don’t aren’t the people you want in your life. The key for me was to find my true authentic self. Not the person I thought other people wanted me to be.
Hannah, 22
  • I found that joining the dance society helped me to meet new people with similar interests to me, who are now the people that I go to if I'm feeling particularly homesick or lonely.
  • The worst thing I did was bottling it up and trying to deal with it myself.
  • Focussing on understanding and liking yourself, and being happy with who you are, is such a positive thing to do for yourself.

Get help now

Even though it might feel like it right now, you are not alone. Here are some organisations who can support you. 

  • Childline

    If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

    Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

    Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

    Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.

    Opening times:
  • The Mix

    Free, short-term online counselling for young people aged 25 or under. Their website also provides lots of information and advice about mental health and wellbeing. 

    Email support is available via their online contact form.

    They have a free 1-2-1 webchat service available during opening hours.

    Opening times:
    4pm - 11pm, Monday - Friday
  • Samaritans

    Whatever you're going through, you can contact the Samaritans for support. N.B. This is a listening service and does not offer advice or intervention.

    Opening times:

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