Loneliness can cause depression in young people, and choosing to withdraw from the company of others can also be a sign of depression. Kekkonen points out that not all problems can be seen on the surface, and this is why it is important to foster dialogue at home.
“When asked, young people often are willing to talk about even delicate issues, such as loneliness, bullying or conflicts in friendships.”
Having a good relationship with one’s parents and siblings contributes to well-being, but these relationships can’t fully replace friendships, which are important for one’s development.
“Friends are a sounding board for an adolescent’s own identity, thoughts and physical changes. Friends are the context in which adolescents learn to become independent of their parents, and they also learn psychosocial skills that are needed later in life. If a young person misses out on all this, it is a cause of great concern.”
One of the conclusions of the study was that young people experiencing loneliness should be encouraged to spend time with others, for example, by participating in a hobby. According to Kekkonen, this is also what many parents do, within the limits of their means. Investing in the prevention of adolescent loneliness in social welfare and health care services could help to promote young people's well-being well into adulthood.
According to Kekkonen, the findings can also help to understand possible effects of the coronavirus pandemic on adolescent well-being both now and in the future.
“Forced social distancing and being separated from friends is very difficult for young people, and worries caused by the pandemic add to their burden. Due to the pandemic, many young people who have earlier been treated for mental health problems are now experiencing more symptoms, and the same is true also for young people who haven’t had any mental health issues before.”
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