Mind week 2004 - New report reveals the extent of isolation in Britain
Posted Monday 17 May 2004
Extent of lonely Britain revealed by Mind.
84 per cent of people with mental health problems and almost one third of the general population feel isolated.
"Isolation leaves me with only my own mind for company, and the thought of it spins around and around and I am unable to offload it to anyone."
"When I have been really sick, the thing I wanted most in the world was for someone to come and talk to me, so that I could tell them what was going on and not to have to suffer alone." Female, 18-24, White British.
A new report launched by Mind today, for the start of Mind week, reveals staggering levels of isolation amongst people with mental health problems (84 per cent), confirming them as one of the most alienated groups in society.
But the report Not alone? Isolation and mental distress also illustrates that the demographics of isolation are mirrored across the general population, with young people highlighted as most likely to feel disconnected from society, whether they have mental health problems or not.
The research indicated that lack of relationships, absence of appropriate social support, stigma and discrimination were all key factors leading to isolation. (*1)
Beyond social change, overcoming isolation came down to very simple solutions for many people. Human contact, made by developing relationships, social activities, mental health organisations and access to the telephone and internet all helped, or would help if available, according to Mind’s survey.
The report highlights several good practice initiatives all working towards overcoming isolation for people with mental health problems. (*2)
Speaking today Mind’s Chief Executive Richard Brook said:
"Many people with mental health problems are still condemned to a life of social segregation because of a vicious cycle of isolation worsened by stigma and prejudice.
Most people already know that it’s good to talk, but when you’re in mental distress it isn’t always that simple. If the crucial links are missing; having close relationships with friends or family, access to social activities, even use of the basics like a telephone or the internet, things can go downhill rapidly.
People with mental health problems are some of the most cut-off members of our society. Although the solutions to isolation are never going to be straightforward, there needs to be more relevant social care services in place, and better understanding by us all, to enable people in mental distress to get back on their feet and back into society.
We all have a responsibility as members of society to face up to our role in tackling this, not least the Government who must take a lead. We very much hope to see details of how they will achieve this in the much anticipated report from the Social Exclusion Unit, due out shortly."
(*1) Mind commissioned two pieces of research for the report; a survey of mental health service users (Mind survey) and a poll of the general public (NOP poll). Respondents were asked whether they felt isolated, what they felt caused isolation, what would help overcome it and what groups in society are most likely to experience isolation.
(*2) See attached sheet for examples of local projects tackling isolation. To set up interviews with any of the projects highlighted in the report contact Mind’s Press Office.