One in four Australians report being lonely - and they have significantly worse physical and mental health than connected Australians. The Australian Loneliness Report, undertaken by The Australian Psychological Society (APS) and Swinburne University of Technology, surveyed 1600 Australians.

Nearly 55 per cent of the population feel they lack companionship at least sometimes, with the number highest in young adults (62 per cent) compared to seniors (46 per cent). Many Australians – especially younger Australians – report anxiety about socialising. Thirty per cent don’t feel part of a group of friends.

APS President Ros Knight says everyone benefited from being able to connect with other people.

“Whether it’s family, friends, neighbours, people we work with, or the strangers we meet, social connections make our lives richer. They are vital for good health,” Ms Knight says.

She adds: "These findings are important as they demonstrate that loneliness is a health issue. We need to consider approaches to loneliness as part of our health and mental health strategy.” 

Tolerating some discomfort and anxiety around connecting with people may be key to making friends - or reconnecting with old ones. Helping others and learning some skills for interacting are also ways in to finding a sense of belonging. Social media is a double edged sword - while useful for finding old and new friends, it is not a substitute for face-to-face interactions.

See the APS website for the full report and some tips to connect with others. 

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