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The importance of social ties in mental health

Laurie Hare Duke (Institute of Mental Health, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Article publication date: 13 November 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

Loneliness is associated with a variety of physical and mental health problems as well as mortality. In the mental health context, loneliness is sometimes viewed as a symptom of mental disorder rather than a problem in its own right. The purpose of this paper is to assess the importance of addressing loneliness amongst mental health service users.

Design/methodology/approach

Narrative overview of current literature on loneliness and health outcomes.

Findings

Loneliness is highly prevalent amongst adults with a variety of different mental health diagnoses in the UK. Preliminary evidence suggests that loneliness is not a symptom of mental health conditions themselves, and thus is likely to be either a cause or a consequence of mental ill-health. Lacking good quality social relationships is a risk factor for a wide range of health problems. The evidence for interventions targeting loneliness in different populations is lacking. New interventions and further research to tackle loneliness amongst service users is warranted.

Originality/value

Loneliness has not historically been a key target for intervention within mental health services. This paper collates the evidence base to provide the foundation for a new wave of interventions to target the perceived social isolation of service users.

Keywords

Citation

Hare Duke, L. (2017), "The importance of social ties in mental health", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 21 No. 5, pp. 264-270. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHSI-07-2017-0029

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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