Tackling loneliness during Freshers Week

Two young people sitting together in a cafe, they are talking to each other and smiling

The DCMS Tackling Loneliness team hosted a Hub webinar earlier this week on the government’s ongoing work to address loneliness stigma, as part of the Better Health – Every Mind Matters campaign, and how organisations can get involved to support students during Freshers Week. Tune in here to find out more.

3 DCMS infographics. The first infographic says '43% of 18-24 year olds worry their peers would judge them if they said they were lonely.' The second says 'over half of 18-24 year olds feel uncomfortable seeking help'. The third says '8 in 10 students supported a friend feeling lonely. Student loneliness

Going to university or entering higher education is a significant life change for lots of people, and for many, it can bring about feelings of loneliness or isolation.

YouGov research on the prevalence of loneliness experienced by students aged 18-24 has found that while loneliness is experienced by almost all students (92%), nearly half (54%) worry they would be judged if they admitted to feeling lonely.

However, the research found there was little judgement from others towards those that admitted to feeling lonely. Almost nine in ten (87%) students disagreed they would judge someone who said they felt this way, while 60% said they would strike up a conversation with a friend if they mentioned feeling lonely.

Government published research on loneliness stigma during Loneliness Awareness Week earlier this year which found that young people often experience stigma associated with loneliness, partly because most people associate loneliness only with older, isolated people – and crucially, this can prevent them from accessing support.

Normalising loneliness as something that anyone can experience at any time can help people feel less alone and remove shame in their feelings of loneliness.

Freshers Week Campaign: What are we up to?

To align with Freshers Week for many universities across the country, we have delivered a series of activities aimed at reaching students in higher education aged 18-24 years old who are the age group most at risk of experiencing loneliness. This included a Student Roundtable held by the Minister for Loneliness Stuart Andrew, and partnerships with Wingstop, Sporting Wellness and Student Radio Association among others who signposted to support at the Better Health – Every Mind Matters Loneliness page. Coverage for the campaign includes The BBC and The Telegraph, in addition to a TikTok on BBC News’ channel created with roundtable participants.

Better Health – Every Mind Matters Loneliness campaign

Running all year round, the Better Health – Every Mind Matters Loneliness campaign signposts to information, resources and help for those experiencing loneliness. The campaign encourages young people to take small actions to help themselves and others who are experiencing loneliness, with a new focus on destigmatising loneliness so that people are aware that everyone feels lonely sometimes.

We want those aged 16-24 to recognise it is a natural part of life that can happen to anyone and have the tools to be able to discuss it sensitively with their peers. This builds on our ‘Lift someone out of loneliness’ campaign which last year reached 49 million monthly online viewers via press coverage, secured 880 pieces of radio coverage shared with an estimated 5.8 million listeners and collaborated with 21 influencers with a combined following of 26 million.

We need your help

Civil society organisations, student or youth networks and commercial partners, we want to hear from you! We’d love to explore future partnership possibilities that align our goals of reducing stigma around loneliness with your work too. Your involvement would play a pivotal role in our collective efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of countless young people.

For Freshers Week this month, you can download and use the campaign assets and key messaging to share across your channels. We would be very grateful if you can help us amplify this important messaging by resharing DCMS posts across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and encourage your ambassadors, patrons and stakeholders to support by sharing posts across their channels too.

Promoting events for your service users or beneficiaries can also help to encourage social connections, and throughout Freshers Week, we are looking to signpost the Every Mind Matters website to those who may be feeling lonely.

Where can I watch the webinar?

Use this link to download and watch the webinar. For more information, and if you would like to explore campaign collaboration opportunities, please get in touch at loneliness@dcms.gov.uk and campaigns@dcms.gov.uk.

To find out more about the government’s Tackling Loneliness Strategy, you can read this blog post, the Tackling Loneliness Annual Report, and the Tackling Loneliness Strategy.


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