While TV shows like Neighbours and Home and Away depict Australians as being very friendly with their neighbours, friends and families, new research published exclusively in the Daily Telegraph has found Aussies are actually more isolated than ever before.
The research, conducted by Lifeline and Bushells Tea, found that more than a third of Australians find it hard to open up to their friends, family and neighbours living next door. To make matters worse, just a third of people even know their neighbour well enough to talk about personal issues.
The study found 55 per cent of Millennials feel disconnected from society, compared to the 24 per cent of Baby Boomers. Researchers believe technology could play a crucial role in why so many Millennials struggle, while two in five people don’t actually know how to talk to someone who is battling with their emotions.
When it comes to talking to strangers, 34 per cent said it was easier than talking to a family member, while 41 per cent of Boomers say they don’t have anyone to talk to. The survey suggested the way people are now loving has changed, with people who rent less likely to be involved in the community.
Previous research by Lifeline Australia found 80 per cent of Aussies thought society was becoming a lonelier place, with 2016 findings suggested technology is partly to blame. Furthermore, it found that society is overlooking old-fashioned care and compassion when it comes to mental health and wellbeing.
In addition to impacts on mental health, other research has found being lonely could also cause cardiovascular problems. Finish and UK researchers from the University of Helsinki in Finland found that cardiovascular patients are more likely to have a recurring heart attack or stroke if they are socially isolated.
If that wasn’t enough, a minister for loneliness has been appointed in the United Kingdom, with British prime minister Theresa May earlier this saying that loneliness has become a sad reality of modern life for too many people.
“I want us all to confront this and take action to address loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, those who have lost loved ones – those with no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with,” the PM said at the time, naming Tracey Crouch the new ‘Minister for Loneliness’.
There are an array of different ways to beat loneliness including meeting neighbours, volunteering, say hello to someone new in the area, checking in on someone who could be having a rough time and even being kinder on social media.
If you’re depressed or need someone to talk to, there are many 24/7 support lines available, including Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, MensLineAustralia on 1300 789 978 and Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.