A student academic experience survey in 2022 identified that one in four students out of 10,000 respondents felt lonely ‘all’ or ‘most’ of the time. Unfortunately, this is not surprising when we look at research that has shown young people aged 16-34 are one of the most at-risk groups for experiencing loneliness. It feels important to note, loneliness is feeling alone - not actually being alone – remember the phrase ‘a person can be lonely in a room full of people’? Loneliness is a feeling we experience when the relationships we have are different to the ones we want.  

It’s difficult, at an age where you feel pressured to be out, living life at 100 miles per hour, meeting everyone and doing everything; seeing everyone else on social media having the best time, living their best lives. It’s exhausting and discouraging! This pressure and comparison contributes to us feeling lonelier and impacting our mental health. Please remember, real life isn’t all that ‘instaglam’ – behind the pictures of all the positive times is a person who has likely struggled too.  

It's likely your new to Exeter as an undergraduate, in a new and unfamiliar place, away from home and any safe comforts you are accustomed to! If your struggling with loneliness or meeting people, we have hundreds of societies for you to get involved with and meet a group of people with shared interest; or we have our Give it a Go events every week – helping you to meet people and fall in love with Exeter.  

Something surprising that also came from the research was that 43% of respondents were worried they would be judged for admitting they are lonely. Despite this, 87% of students said they would not judge someone for admitting this and 60% said they would strike up a conversation with a friend if they mentioned feeling lonely. We hope this reassures you that if you are feeling lonely, please don’t suffer in silence. Reach out to your peers, friends, family and let them know how you are feeling – it’s likely they’ve felt it too at some point in time.  

The Mental Health Foundation have put together a fantastic student guide to loneliness which has lots of information, guidance and inspiration to overcome student loneliness. It also has some great campaign information packs such as Top Tips: Healthy Relationships with ourselves and how this will support you to feel less lonely and more empowered within yourself.  

Every Mind Matters also have some great tips on different types of loneliness and dealing with loneliness.  

If feelings of loneliness are impacting your mental health we encourage you to speak to friends, family members, and support services such as peer support groups or the wellbeing services.