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Relationship between loneliness and mental health in students

Relationship between loneliness and mental health in students PurposePrevious cross-sectional research has examined the effect of loneliness on mental health. The purpose of this paper is to examine longitudinal relationships in students.Design/methodology/approachA total of 454 British undergraduate students completed measures of loneliness and mental health at four time points.FindingsAfter controlling for demographics and baseline mental health, greater loneliness predicted greater anxiety, stress, depression and general mental health over time. There was no evidence that mental health problems increased loneliness over time. There was no relationship with alcohol problems. Baseline loneliness predicted greater eating disorder risk at follow-up and vice versa.Research limitations/implicationsThis study is limited by a relatively small and heavily female sample.Practical implicationsSocial and psychological interventions to reduce loneliness in university settings may improve mental health.Social implicationsUniversities should consider organising social activities to mitigate feelings of loneliness in students.Originality/valueThis study adds to the literature as a longitudinal analysis showing that loneliness exacerbates poor mental health over time. This also adds to the literature for students specifically, and suggests a possible bi-directional relationship between eating disorders and loneliness for the first time. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Public Mental Health Emerald Publishing

Relationship between loneliness and mental health in students

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1746-5729
DOI
10.1108/JPMH-03-2016-0013
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposePrevious cross-sectional research has examined the effect of loneliness on mental health. The purpose of this paper is to examine longitudinal relationships in students.Design/methodology/approachA total of 454 British undergraduate students completed measures of loneliness and mental health at four time points.FindingsAfter controlling for demographics and baseline mental health, greater loneliness predicted greater anxiety, stress, depression and general mental health over time. There was no evidence that mental health problems increased loneliness over time. There was no relationship with alcohol problems. Baseline loneliness predicted greater eating disorder risk at follow-up and vice versa.Research limitations/implicationsThis study is limited by a relatively small and heavily female sample.Practical implicationsSocial and psychological interventions to reduce loneliness in university settings may improve mental health.Social implicationsUniversities should consider organising social activities to mitigate feelings of loneliness in students.Originality/valueThis study adds to the literature as a longitudinal analysis showing that loneliness exacerbates poor mental health over time. This also adds to the literature for students specifically, and suggests a possible bi-directional relationship between eating disorders and loneliness for the first time.

Journal

Journal of Public Mental HealthEmerald Publishing

Published: Jun 19, 2017

References