The young Australian loneliness survey: understanding loneliness in adolescence and young adulthood

A report prepared for the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation
Adolescents Loneliness Mental health promotion Victoria

The Young Australian Loneliness Survey is the first known study to examine loneliness severity in a large cohort of young Victorians aged 12 to 25 years. The main study aim was to examine the prevalence of loneliness and social isolation in adolescents (12–17 years old) and young adults (18–25 years old) residing in Victoria, Australia.

A total of 1,520 participants completed an online survey. There were 650 adolescent participants aged 12 to 17 years old and 870 young adults aged 18 to 25 years old. Demographic factors, loneliness, social isolation risk, known mental health correlates such as social anxiety and depression, emotion regulation, and positive and negative affect measures were collected.

Key findings:

  1. More than one in four young Victorians reported problematic levels of loneliness, specifically, one in six adolescents and one in three young adults. Overall, adolescents reported significantly lower levels of loneliness than young adults.
  2. Almost one in three young Victorians reported themselves to be of high social isolation risk which was measured via frequency of contact with family and friends. Overall, adolescents also reported less social isolation risk than young adults.
  3. Those who are lonelier are at an increased risk of poorer mental health outcomes. Loneliness is associated with an increased likelihood of experiencing higher depression and social anxiety.
  4. Adolescents compared with young adults consistently performed better on various factors. Adolescents reported lower depression, social anxiety, negative affect, and more positive affect when compared with young adults.
  5. Overall, social isolation risk, mental health symptom severity, affect, and emotion regulation all significantly predicted loneliness across the entire sample.
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