Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health Network

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Call for evidence: initiatives focusing on psychological factors to reduce Loneliness

Professor Roz Shafran, Professor Sonia Johnson, and Dr. Alexandra Pitman are leading a group of researchers within The UKRI Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health research network, to carry out a review of the literature to identify psychological factors associated with loneliness and to find existing approaches that seek to reduce loneliness by directly targeting internal factors. The project is funded by The Campaign to End Loneliness and the National Lottery Community Funds’.  So far the project  has involved a review of academic literature, search of conference abstracts and other grey literature,  contacting experts in the field, talking to Third Sector organisations and we have  conducted a stakeholder event that included people with lived experience.  More information about the event will be on the website soon.

We have found a range of different psychological factors affecting loneliness and many different approaches  to reduce loneliness, but we expect that there are some that we still do not know about.

We are very keen to hear from you. Please let us know if you aware of any current existing or past initiatives (based in the UK or abroad) taking place within community organisations or the NHS, where internal psychological factors were addressed to reduce loneliness.  These could be group or individual approaches and with or without a theoretical base. We are also interested to know if that approach or initiative has been effective in reducing loneliness or improving well-being.

For further information, and to tell us about the initiatives you know,  please email Mary Birken: m.birken@ucl.ac.uk

Stakeholder Event to discuss strategies for encouraging psychological and emotional resilience in response to loneliness

13th May 2019

The day comprised presentations, round-table discussions and working groups with the aim of obtaining a wide range of perspectives.

This event was part of a project funded by the Campaign to End Loneliness in collaboration with the UKRI Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health Network.Here are some presentations from the event:

More presentations from the day will be uploaded soon.

Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health research network

The Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health is a new research network that will bring together many different relative perspectives on this topic. It is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a body that brings together UK Research Councils in different fields. The network was launched in December 2018, and is one of eight UKRI-funded researcher networks. It brings together researchers, health practitioners, charities, people with lived experience of mental ill health, and other organisations to address important mental health research questions. Researchers include clinical researchers, psychologists, social scientists, neuroscientists and specialists in the arts and in digital innovations.

The Network is intended to greatly accelerate the pace of research on loneliness and social isolation in mental health. Topics we are interested in include:

- how mental health and social connections relate to each other

- whether tackling loneliness is a potential way of improving the mental health of our population

- how to reduce loneliness among people living with mental health problems.

We have already got together a network of researchers and practitioners from different backgrounds (including charities working in this field), and people representing those with lived experience of loneliness and social isolation. We will be growing this network over the coming months.

We have funding currently up to Summer 2022. In this time, we will be:

- Mapping the evidence that is already available and the research in progress in this area

- Identifying research priorities, including those of people with relevant lived experience

- Providing funding for small projects

- Bringing together collaborative groups to begin developing larger projects

- Aiming to support development of the research workforce in this area, especially researchers who are early in their careers and researchers with relevant lived experience.

Over the course of three and a half years we will be scoping current evidence and on-going work, identifying research priorities, and providing seed-funding for small projects. Our aim to is to better understand the direction and nature of the links between loneliness and social isolation and mental health problems, and to plant the seeds for work to reduce the burden of mental ill health by reducing loneliness and social isolation. 

The network is led by Professor Sonia Johnson and Dr Alexandra Pitman, both from the UCL Division of Psychiatry, as part of a team of 12 co-investigators at the University of Birmingham, LSE, the Royal College of Music, UCL, and the University of Northumbria. Dr Sarah Carr (University of Birmingham) leads on involvement of people with relevant lived experience in all aspects of the network. The network is supported by third sector and policy partners, including Wellbeing Enterprises CIC, the Campaign to End Loneliness, the Bromley By Bow Centre, Social Spider CIC, the Mental Elf, and Public Health England.

We launched our network on 3/12/18 at an event at Friends House, near Euston station in London, whilst also disseminating the results of the Community Navigator study. 

We are interested in hearing a wide range of views on what we should prioritise, and are surveying views at this link

Further information:

UCL press release

RCM press release

Lancet comment piece


Twitter: @UCL_Loneliness