Social isolation and loneliness can be harmful to both mental and physical health. They are considered significant health and wellbeing issues in Australia because of the impact they have on peoples’ lives. Part of the challenge in reporting on social isolation and loneliness stems from a lack of information about these experiences and a lack of universally-agreed upon definitions. Some of the measures implemented to manage the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, such as physical isolation and lockdowns, have had the potential to exacerbate pre-existing risk factors for social isolation and loneliness, such as living alone. Information on loneliness associated with COVID-19 may also be found on AIHW’s suicide and self-harm monitoring website.
Difference between social isolation and loneliness:
Social isolation is seen as the state of having minimal contact with others. It differs from loneliness, which is a subjective state of negative feelings about having a lower level of social contact than desired. Some definitions include loneliness as a form of social isolation while others state that loneliness is an emotional reaction to social isolation. The two concepts do not necessarily co-exist—a person may be socially isolated but not lonely, or socially connected but feel lonely.