Loneliness among youngsters, an unhealthy taboo
Also hungry for knowledge? Fancy a snack? Assistant Professor of Developmental Psychology Gerine Lodder was among the finalists for the title of New Scientist Talent 2019.
Loneliness in the elderly is a well-known phenomenon. But loneliness is also a major problem among young people. Loneliness can lead to depression, anxiety, loss of self-confidence, poor sleep, excessive alcohol and drug consumption, and even cardiovascular disease. There is a growing awareness that loneliness is really unhealthy, comparable to the impact of smoking or obesity, according to Gerine Lodder, development psychologist at Tilburg University.
The taboo must be removed
We need to talk more about loneliness. The taboo must be removed. Gerine: "I would like to see, for example, that it is normal for a doctor or social worker not only to ask about physical and mental developments, but also about social issues. Does the person have enough friends? Are there people to whom he or she can fall back? These aspects are just as important as healthy eating and getting enough exercise." (Univers Online, in Dutch)
Fortunately, more and more attention is being paid to loneliness. After Gerine obtained her PhD on the subject in 2016, she came out more and more actively with her findings. She received a Science for Society Award and earned a place in the final of the competition for New Scientist Science Talent.
The research by Gerine Lodder also led to questions in Parliament. A motion calling for more attention for loneliness among young people was adopted.