Journal scan

Lonely students more at risk of mental health problems

Students who feel lonely are at greater risk of developing mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, study finds.

Students who feel lonely are at greater risk of developing mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, study finds

lonely
There was little relationship between loneliness and alcohol problems,
but there was a link with eating disorder symptoms. Picture: iStock

Students who feel lonely are at greater risk of developing mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, a study has found.

The research, led by Southampton University, is the first to find a relationship between loneliness and mental health among British students.

Psychologists looked at 454 undergraduates from across the UK over a year, and measured loneliness by asking standardised questions such as how often they felt left out.

Those who reported greater feelings of loneliness were more likely to experience an increase in anxiety, stress, depression and general mental health problems over time, they found.

Eating disorder link

But the study, carried out in partnership with Kingston University London, found no evidence that mental health problems led to an increase in loneliness.

There was also little relationship between loneliness and alcohol problems, but there was a link between feeling lonely and having eating disorder symptoms such as being preoccupied with weight.

Lead researcher Tom Richardson said: ‘This is the first time that the relationship between loneliness and mental health among British students has been highlighted.’


Richardson T et al (2017) Relationship between loneliness and mental health in students. Journal of Public Mental Health. doi.org/10.1108/JPMH-03-2016-0013

This article is for subscribers only

Jobs