We know that, for all of us as social beings, no matter what our age, social support and social contact is incredibly important for wellbeing. Social life has really important functions for students who are young adults starting out at university. At that transitional life stage, it is important share experiences with peers, and to establish social connections. Therefore, the potential impacts of the restrictions on social contact imposed by disease containment measures may result in increased loneliness. That is, a painful feeling that arises when there is a gap between actual and desired social contact.
The mental health impacts of resultant loneliness may be particularly concerning for young people, including university students, including over time. Our rapid review of the existing evidence about the links between mental health and loneliness (Loades et al.) included several studies of young adults who were university students. We found that when measured at the same time, loneliness was related to both depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as to suicidal thoughts. Over time, there was evidence that loneliness is associated with subsequent depression, up to 3 years later in university students. These studies took place at universities across the world, including in the USA, the UK as well as Europe, Asia and Africa.
We are using this blog to help connect stakeholders across Higher Education interested in student mental health. If you have a project you are working on or an idea you'd like to develop, why not write your own blog post for us?