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Mental Health, Youth

headspace urges young women to create connections, as survey reveals many feel lonely

headspace 4 mins read

 

Thursday 7 March 2024

 

On the eve of International Women’s Day (8 March), the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, headspace, is encouraging young women to explore opportunities for social connection in their community, as research finds they are more likely than their male peers to experience loneliness.

The headspace National Youth Mental Health Survey found two in three (67%) young women felt left out often or some of the time, while more than three in five lacked companionship (62%) and felt isolated from others (61%).1,2 

Young women aged 18-21-years-old were found to experience loneliness more than any other age group of Australian young people. Almost 4 in 5 (79%) 18-21-year-old women said that they sometimes or often feel left out, and 76 per cent responded that they sometimes or often feel they are lacking companionship and/or are feeling isolated from others.

In good news, the survey showed young women (75%) are more willing than their male counterparts (65%) to seek support from a mental health professional.

But the 18-21-year-old cohort were the least likely among all young women to seek help, with more than half of this age group (52%) preferring to deal with emotional problems on their own.

headspace Head of Clinical Leadership, Nicola Palfrey, acknowledges this stage of young adulthood can be a difficult time, marked by major life changes, and young women may feel lonely for a variety of reasons.

“People in their late teens and early twenties are doing many things for the first time. They are gaining greater independence, leaving school, moving out of home, and beginning further education or a career. These are all major life transitions, which can feel exciting and full of potential, but they can also feel overwhelming and stressful.

Moving out of the family home or no longer seeing your friends and teachers everyday can increase the likelihood of feeling lonely. These support networks, which were once very accessible for young people, can be strained by distance, or changes in routine.

“There are a variety of reasons why young adult women may feel lonely. The same survey told us that young women and people in this specific age range were more likely to display problematic social media use. Social media bombards us with images of people having a great time, surrounded by friends, which can make us feel lonely, or like we’re missing out.

“Studies have also shown that young women are less likely to engage in community sport, which can be a great way of routinely catching up with mates when you leave school.

“We encourage all young people – but especially young women – to explore how they can create connections and get into life. Volunteering in your local community, checking out groups at your university or work, exploring any clubs that focus on a hobby you enjoy, or getting in touch with your local headspace centre are all ways you can grow your network.

“It's also important that community groups continue creating safe and welcoming environments where young women feel confident and valued. Providing opportunities for young women to explore their interests, share new ideas, participate in activities and connect with others benefits everyone.

“Coping with loneliness can be tough. Although it can be hard reaching out to others to let them know what you’re going through, it can help you feel supported, less isolated and it can be the beginning of a valuable support network. If reaching out to someone you know feels uncomfortable, you can always seek professional help.”

Young people aged 12 to 25, as well as their family and friends can visit a headspace centre for support. Support is also available via phone and online counselling service eheadspace seven days a week between 9am–1am (AEST). The number is 1800 650 890.

If you’re looking for someone to talk to immediately, Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), and 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) are available to talk 24/7.


- ENDS -

 

 

Notes to Editor: Study key findings

 

  • Experiences of loneliness are common among young Australians.
    • A large proportion of young people felt they lacked companionship often or some of the time (60%). Just over three in five young people felt left out often or some of the time (62%), and slightly fewer felt isolated from others often or some of the time (58%).
  • The following groups of young people were more likely to experience loneliness (as per the three-item loneliness scale):
    • Young women (5.5), compared to young men (5.0).
    • Those aged 18-21 years (5.9) and 22-25 years (5.6), compared to those aged 12-14 years (4.7) and 15-17 years (4.8).
  • Young women aged between 18 and 21 years old were the most likely of any cohort to experience loneliness, scoring 6.2 on the loneliness scale.
    • 76% of young women in this age group felt they lacked companionship often or some of the time.
    • 79% of young women in this age group felt left out often or some of the time.
    • 76% of young women in this age group felt isolated from others often or some of the time.
  • Young men (43%) were more likely to deal with emotional problems on their own compared to young women (38%).
    • Young women aged between 18 and 21 years old (52%) were the most likely to deal with emotional problems on their own among any other age group of women.
  • Young women (52%) are more likely to make comparisons between their own life and what they see on social media compared to young men (42%).

 

About headspace 

headspace is the National Youth Mental Health Foundation providing early intervention mental health services to 12-25-year olds. Each year, headspace helps thousands of young people access vital support through our headspace services in 157 communities across Australia3, our online and phone counselling services, our vocational services, and our presence in schools. headspace can help young people with mental health, physical health (including sexual health) alcohol and other drug services, and work and study support. For locations of headspace services, as well as factsheets and resources for young people and their families and friends, please visit the headspace website: headspace.org.au



1 These three sub-measures make up the Three-Item Loneliness Scale, a standardised and internationally recognised scale that measures for 3 dimensions of loneliness: relational connectedness, social connectedness and self-perceived isolation.

2 For all three sub-measures, the percentage refers to those who selected ‘Often’ or ‘Some of the time’.

3 headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health

 


Contact details:

headspace Media & Communications: media@headspace.org.au or 0413 025 385

Link to more information from the National Youth Mental Health Survey

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