What is social isolation and how does it compare to loneliness?

It’s important to remember that loneliness is not the same as social isolation. People can be isolated (alone) yet not feel lonely. People can be surrounded by other people, yet still, feel lonely.

Loneliness is a subjective feeling about the gap between a person’s desired levels of social contact and their actual level of social contact. It refers to the perceived quality of the person’s relationships. 

One common description of loneliness is the feeling we get when our need for rewarding social contact and relationships is not met. But loneliness is not always the same as being alone.

When people feel socially isolated, this can be overcome relatively quickly by increasing the number of people they are in contact with.

A lack of social contact can be triggered by many factors and has a negative effect on wellbeing. It can happen to anyone but whoever you are, it's important to get help. And that's what we're here for.

Social isolation isn't limited to older people

Our connection to others enables us to survive and thrive. Yet, as we age, many of us are alone more often than when we were younger, leaving us vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness.

However, new research shows that many young people are also subject to feelings of loneliness and social isolation. The research findings could be linked to the “new challenges” young people face for the first time, such as moving away from home or starting new jobs.

People can also feel lonely because of the feeling of being misunderstood, or singled out by life events, a health condition or other circumstances.

Why is it important to get help?

Health risks associated with loneliness and social isolation are comparable to the dangers of smoking and obesity. This includes health problems such as cognitive decline, depression, and heart disease.

People who feel lonely may also have weakened immune cells that have trouble fighting off viruses, which makes them more vulnerable to some infectious diseases.

Conversely, people who engage in meaningful, productive activities with others tend to live longer, boost their mood, and have a sense of purpose. These activities seem to help maintain their well-being and may improve their cognitive function, studies show.

How can you get help?

All you need to do is fill out the assessment form below. Upon completion, we’ll be able to review your health and wellbeing needs and connect you to the appropriate help and support. This could be from one of our wellbeing coaches, a befriending coordinator, a community agent, or through our volunteering programme.


Get in touch

Click the below button to take our online assessment to help you understand more about your health needs, prioritise them and find the right support for you.

Take the Online Assessment TODAY

Alternatively, if you would like to speak to someone about any of our services, or would like assistance taking the assessment online please contact us on 0300 303 9988 or email provide.essexwellbeing@nhs.net to talk to one of our friendly team members.

Take the Online Assessment TODAY
We recruit and connect volunteers to help local residents with everyday tasks as well as provide support for social isolation, loneliness and making long term-friendships for both parties involved. Support may be requested by the individual or referred by another individual.