Loneliness can blight the lives young adults living in every kind of neighbourhood in the UK, a study says.
Academics from King’s College London found loneliness was an issue in urban as well as rural areas and in wealthy areas as well as deprived ones.
They say loneliness is a particular problem among young adults – regardless of gender or socio-economic background.
The study says these adults are more likely to have a negative view of where they live, compounding their isolation.
The King’s College research says: “The findings of this study reveal that among young adults, loneliness occurs equally within many different types of neighbourhoods, irrespective of urbanicity, population density, deprivation, or crime.
“If lonelier individuals are disposed to perceive neighbourhoods more negatively, this could lead them to make biased choices and avoid areas that are in fact more cohesive than they judge them to be.
“Indeed, rather than seeking out more cohesive neighbourhoods, lonely individuals may be more likely to self-select into environments that match their negative mood.
“This in turn could limit their opportunities to join close-knit communities and escape loneliness.”
Researchers asked 2,232 18-year-olds born in England and Wales how often they felt lonely and to describe their neighbourhood.
Lead author Dr Timothy Matthews, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, at King’s, said: “There are lots of community initiatives to try and encourage people to get together and take part in shared activities.
“However, it’s important to remember that some people can feel lonely in a crowd, and the most effective interventions to reduce loneliness involve counselling to help individuals tackle negative patterns of thinking.”
The study is published in Psychological Science.