Deemed as detrimental to health as chronic long-term illnesses, loneliness is a problem that simply cannot be ignored. Often considered the plight of the elderly, loneliness seems to loom as a fate we are destined for in our old age. Age UK’s 2017 Christmas campaign, ‘No One should have No One’ illustrated the poignant, yet familiar, reality of senior people experiencing loneliness during the festive period. However, loneliness affects over 9 million people in the UK despite age or season and studies show these numbers are on the rise.

A Male Issue

More than 2.5 million British men admit they would have no friends to turn to for help in a crisis. This seems to be yet another product of masculine social norms which discourage men from reaching out to one another, forging new friendships, and investing in old ones. Whilst loneliness is something men and women have in common, women tend to be quite socially minded allowing them to invest in close friendships much more than their male counterparts.

Admit how you are feeling

Tackling loneliness, like many issues, begins with the acknowledgment of it. Recent facts released by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness reveals that more than 1 in 10 men say they are lonely, but would not admit it to anyone. Taking steps to recognise and admit feelings of loneliness is the only way to begin seeking help and making changes.

Identify the problem

Identifying why you are lonely can help pinpoint the steps you should take to deal with it. With the huge amount of people suffering from loneliness it is clearly not caused by a sole reason. People can experience loneliness due to a bereavement, relationship breakdowns, moving to a new place, changing job, retiring, or empty nest syndrome.

With issues such as bereavement or relationship breakdowns (romantic or familial) you can speak to your GP who can signpost you to designated groups for your specific issue. Finding common ground with others in a similar situation can help fight feelings of isolation.

For other logistical issues such as moving to a new place, getting a new job, or having more time to fill due to retirement getting involved is the best way to fight loneliness.

Get involved

Think of the things in your life you are passionate about or interested in such as gardening, sport, music, history, or simply being outdoors. Try to find community projects, group schemes, or weekly classes you can attend that centre around things you genuinely enjoy. Meeting other people with likeminded attitudes and interests is a brilliant way to keep socialised. Furthermore, having an activity built into your weekly schedule will ensure you prioritise it and remain committed. Here is where MaleMenu can help! Click here for our list of suggestions in your local area.

Links to Local Community Projects and Schemes

The Campaign to End Loneliness in NI

Age NI  website or free phone 0808 808 7575

WaveLength provides technology such as televisions and radios for isolated and lonely people and those living in poverty, at no cost to the recipient.

Have you suffered from loneliness? How have you combatted this? What advice would you give to those struggling? Share the groups, activities, or projects which have helped you stay socialised. Join or start the conversation below.