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Voluntary sector interventions to address loneliness and mental health in older people: taking account of emotional, psychological and social wellbeing



Dayson, Chris;

Harris, Catherine;

Woodward, Abigail;

(2021)

Voluntary sector interventions to address loneliness and mental health in older people: taking account of emotional, psychological and social wellbeing.

Perspectives in Public Health
, 141
(4)

pp. 237-243.

10.1177/17579139211017580.

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Abstract

Aims:

(1) To explore the relationship between loneliness and mental health in older people accessing interventions delivered through the voluntary sector. (2) To understand how these interventions can take account of mental health, discussing the relative strengths of a number of different one-to-one and group-based interventions.

Methods:

Qualitative case study of Age Better in Sheffield (ABiS), an initiative to address loneliness and isolation among older people (aged above 50). 37 beneficiaries of voluntary sector interventions participated in the study: 17 had accessed a one-to-one intervention and 20 had accessed group-based activities.

Results:

One-to-one therapeutic interventions are beneficial when loneliness is associated with low psychological and emotional wellbeing stemming from trauma and other complex pre-existing issues that have left individuals unable to build social relationships and networks. One-to-one peer-to-peer interventions are beneficial for individuals whose loneliness is linked to low psychological and emotional wellbeing but for whom their issues are less complex. Group-based interventions are beneficial when loneliness is linked to social wellbeing and individuals want to build social networks and relationships and contribute to their community. Participants should be supported to access other forms of support if the benefits of the initial intervention are to be sustained.

Conclusions:

There is an interconnected relationship between loneliness and the emotional, psychological and social components of mental health that should be taken into account in the design of interventions. A range of one-to-one and group-based interventions are necessary to meet the varying needs and circumstances of older people experiencing loneliness. Public health commissioners should invest in an ecosystem of voluntary organisations providing different types of loneliness intervention if the epidemic of loneliness is to be addressed.

Type: Article

Title: Voluntary sector interventions to address loneliness and mental health in older people: taking account of emotional, psychological and social wellbeing
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/17579139211017580
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/17579139211017580
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Public, Environmental & Occupational Health, loneliness, mental health, wellbeing, voluntary sector, RISK-FACTORS, RECOVERY
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Primary Care and Population Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10161002
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