Loneliness could last long after lockdown, warn Sheffield Council bosses
Lockdown has created a huge amount of loneliness and some people, particularly the elderly, may continue to suffer even when restrictions have eased.
Eleanor Rutter, consultant in public health at Sheffield Council, says the damage isolation can cause should not be underestimated.
She says in a report that “personal resilience” and access to technology will have helped some people but disadvantaged families, those living alone, and those in poor physical and mental health are at particular risk.
“The negative impact for some will be compounded by developing poor habits such as overeating, smoking or using alcohol and drugs more, due to feeling isolated or lonely.
“There is widespread concern about the effect social isolation and distancing will have on mental health. There are reports of higher levels of anxiety, depression, stress and other negative feelings.”
Working from home has also had an impact and caused isolation and stress. Ms Rutter said people had found it a challenge keeping their work and home life separate and dealing with clients alone at home could be difficult.
She warned some people will still struggle even after lockdown restrictions have eased.
“Local information indicates older people, especially those who are extremely clinically vulnerable, are reluctant to re-engage in social activities.
“Those older people that do wish to socialise with others may face additional barriers such as digital exclusion, a reduction in organised activities like lunch clubs and concerns about using public transport.”
She said voluntary groups working in communities should be supported and social activities which give people a connection, such as knitting or sharing sporting memories, should be promoted.
In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.