Loneliness has increased dramatically in Finland – the Finnish Red Cross is concerned about the situation
Loneliness can lead to tragedy. Currently, nearly one in three Finns is suffering from loneliness, whereas the number used to be one in five.
This exceptional period and its restrictions have dramatically increased loneliness in Finland. The coronavirus situation has continued for a year now and will continue for several months at least. This will lead to prolonged loneliness and more severe damage.
“We are very concerned about this. The situation has gone on for a long time already and it will have long-term effects. Health security is of course important, but in addition, we should take loneliness equally seriously. The coronavirus can kill, as can loneliness,” says Maaret Alaranta, social services coordinator from the Finnish Red Cross.
Disadvantages of loneliness burden those already in a difficult situation
Loneliness has increased in particular among the over-65s, people living alone, people with low income and the unemployed.
“The disadvantages of loneliness most burden those who are already in a difficult situation. Research shows that loneliness has increased the most among people in a weaker socio-economic position,” Alaranta says.
Prolonged loneliness significantly harms a person’s health and well-being. Loneliness makes you vulnerable to many illnesses, such as depression, other mental health issues and physical illness.
Loneliness is not only harmful to the individual, but for society as a whole.
Lonely people require more health care services and are more prone to be left outside social activities.
“As a society, we cannot afford to lose nearly a third of our population to loneliness. This is a real threat that we must act against right now,” Maaret Alaranta says.
Everyone must help in tackling loneliness
The Red Cross is alleviating loneliness in Finland. Every year, around 25,000 people feel less lonely thanks to the Red Cross friend activities. However, this alone is not enough. We must all do our part in alleviating loneliness.
“A third of Finns is such a large number of people that no volunteer groups or authorities alone can make the situation better. We encourage everyone to keep in contact with their loved ones and think about who might be experiencing loneliness and want someone to talk to. Even small deeds can mean great things,” Maaret Alaranta says.
The Finnish Red Cross studied the loneliness experienced by Finnish people, reasons behind loneliness and the impact of the coronavirus situation. The study was implemented by Taloustutkimus in January 2021.