New research will investigate rates of loneliness in Nottingham

A new piece of research to understand the prevalence of loneliness in the people of Nottingham has been launched this week by a West Bridgford psychotherapist seeking to tackle the ‘silent pandemic’ of loneliness in the area.

The unique ‘Campaign for Connection’ study has been commissioned by Counselling West Bridgford to increase public knowledge about loneliness and disconnection, and bust myths about what it is to be lonely. Its founder and UKCP-accredited psychotherapist and counsellor Michelle Briggs explains: “Global research evidence was signalling a silent pandemic before we’d even heard of the phrase ‘COVID-19.’ That pandemic is loneliness, and profession, status, health, age or postcode do not provide immunity.

“There is often a stereotype that loneliness mainly affects older people, which of course it can, but in a recent loneliness study conducted by the BBC, it was in fact young people aged 16 to 24 that reported the highest rates of loneliness.

“I’m pleased to see we are all taking more about loneliness, although I believe there is still misunderstanding about what loneliness is: it continues to be stigmatised, and the onus is often put on the individual to fix their situation, rather than it being a collective effort. We are a social species and require connections with others, and loneliness is a signal to improve our connections.

“As part of our Campaign for Connection, I would like to call on adults of all ages across Nottingham and further afield to take part in the anonymous survey. As well as contributing to the research, they will find information, signposting to resources, and questions for further reflection.”

The university-designed, anonymous survey provides a ‘loneliness score’ and is available to complete on the Counselling West Bridgford website:

“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of having strong connections with others for mental health and wellbeing,” Michelle explains, “I believe we have an opportunity, whilst it is still at the forefront of our minds, to join together and take action to reduce loneliness.

“Loneliness is subjective, and can be defined as ‘the gap between the connection you need, and the connection you experience.’ People may not identify the gap as ‘loneliness’ – it can also manifest as anger or frustration. This feeling can be compared to hunger or thirst and is a signal to pay attention and close the gap. Once loneliness has its grip on us, it can be difficult for us to fix on our own, which is why I am calling on everyone to get involved in this important research.”

Michelle adds: “It is my mission to help the communities of Nottingham to improve their connections. By gaining an understanding the prevalence of loneliness in the area, I will be well equipped to provide educational resources, tools and events to help the people of Nottingham to unite and foster positive connections with others.”

The loneliness survey is open until the end of October 2020, to over 18-year-olds only.

Counselling West Bridgford offers confidential, person-centred counselling and coaching via telephone, video and in-person (post-COVID-19 lockdown) and specialises in issues such as depression, anxiety, bullying, self-harm, life choices and inter-relational issues.

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