The link between loneliness, deprivation and poor mental health

How they affect Kent communities and how we can help

People’s mental wellbeing is often impacted by factors largely beyond their control.

Living in a deprived area, experiencing housing instability and unemployment are all linked to poor mental health and feelings of loneliness and isolation.

These issues have long been common to large parts of Kent and Medway. Recently, they have been intensified by the pandemic and cost of living crisis.

As a result, community mental health support – like that which Porchlight delivers – is needed more than ever. To help people thrive, we:

  • prevent them from falling into further hardship
  • give them the tools to better manage their mental health
  • restore or develop their connection to the community.

Mental health is poorer in disadvantaged communities

We know deprivation increases the risk of mental health problems. People surviving on low incomes, living in insecure housing or experiencing difficulties with employment are also more likely to need support for depression, anxiety and feelings of isolation.

In several parts of Kent, people’s wages are not keeping up with the cost of renting. In six local authorities (Ashford, Folkestone & Hythe, Gravesham, Maidstone, Swale and Thanet), resident earnings are below the national average

We focus our support where it’s needed most. Last year, our community mental health services supported 3,230 people in the most deprived areas of Kent, helping to tackle the inequalities that have been intensified by the pandemic.

Living in disadvantaged areas often means that your housing situation is more insecure. Research shows that for people with pre-existing mental health problems, having to frequently move house increases their likelihood of having a mental health crisis.

Loneliness

In addition to being at higher risk of poor mental health, people living in disadvantaged communities are also likely to feel cut off from others.

According to the Office of National Statistics, 23% of adults ‘often, always or sometimes’ feel lonely. Women are the most likely to be experiencing these feelings.

Research shows that loneliness can lead to an increased risk of anxiety, depression, sleep problems and stress. These issues were heightened for many people during the pandemic. Social networks were disrupted and those experiencing poor mental health were left feeling isolated, particularly individuals living in single-person households.

Strong relationships and support networks help people to keep well, particularly during difficult times. We help people to feel included, valued and more connected to their communities.

Loneliness in young adults

The pandemic left many young people (16-29) feeling isolated. The Office of National Statistics has found that they experience loneliness at a higher rate than other age groups – 33% said they ‘often, always or sometimes’ feel lonely.

Young adults experiencing loneliness are more likely than their peers to have mental health problems, engage in behaviour that puts their physical health at risk, and use more negative strategies to cope with stress.

LGBTQ+ young people are particularly likely to experience loneliness and poor mental health. The pandemic exacerbated these issues – lockdowns left many young people without safe spaces to be themselves or access to support networks.