For someone living with mental illness, could isolation and loneliness worsen their illness?

According to studies of the effects of loneliness, the answer seems to be yes. Research has shown that clear associations exist between the impact of loneliness and mental health problems. Loneliness is associated with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, sleep problems, and both suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. (Mann et al, 2017) Less research has been done on its association with psychosis, but one study listed loneliness as an ultra-high-risk-for psychosis. (Robustelli et al, 2017)

Loneliness and social isolation can have profound effects on most people and have been linked to various psychiatric and physical disorders and early mortality.

Social networks and social ties have a beneficial impact on our whole health outcomes, including stress reduction, psychological well-being, and the psychological distress of depression and anxiety. (Kawachi & Berkman, 2001)

By providing emotional support, companionship and opportunities for meaningful social engagement, social connections have an influence on self-esteem, coping skills, and a sense of well-being, all of which help people in their journeys to recovery. (Berkman & Glass, 2000)

Peer Support has proven valuable in helping individuals with mental health disorders to connect to their communities and to build supportive relationships. View this SMI Adviser webinar to learn more: The Role of Peer Support in Ending Social Exclusion and Loneliness.

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