Tackling loneliness – How to cope when you can’t see your mates

Loneliness is now impacting one in two young people. Here’s how to look after yourself (and your mates) during lockdown.


It’s safe to say there are a lot of people out there doing it tough right now.

If there’s one thing those of us in lockdown are missing more than anything else right now, it’s the ability to see our mates in person. 

You don’t realise how much you miss something like this until it’s gone. The ability to show up at a mate’s house spontaneously to shoot some hoops, grab a bite to eat…

Loneliness in lockdown and why it’s a problem

headspace’s National Youth Mental Health Survey, released in June this year, said more than one in two young people (54%) felt a sense of loneliness (up from 49% in 2018). 

headspace CEO Jason Trethowan says the research, involving 1,035 young people across Australia, makes it clear that plenty of us are doing it tough. 

“Young people report they lack companionship, feel left out and are missing out on experiences that define their youth – like meeting new people and travelling,” he says.

“We know there’s a vicious cycle where feeling isolated can impact mental health, which in turn leads to further social withdrawal and poorer mental health.”

What you can do to cope 

Ideally what you want in this situation is a time machine, but let’s face it that’s probably a few years away.

In the meantime there are some things you can do. 

Get in touch virtually 

While you may be a little over Zoom meetings right now, it’s still important to touch base with the people you care about – even if you can only do it virtually. Something as simple as Whatsapping a mate can be a great way to check in on someone (and as an added bonus it will make you feel better too).

Find some distractions for your free time

Part of what makes lockdowns so tough is the amount of idle time you have on your hands. The best way to deal with this is by making good use of it. Now is a great time to start a new project, learn a language, pick up a musical instrument or teach yourself how to cook your favourite dish. Even something as simple as binging your favourite TV series or watching every Star Wars film three times in a row can be a good way to keep yourself occupied.

Focus on the things you can control

Making yourself feel better in lockdown is sometimes a matter of focusing on the things that you can control, rather than the things you can’t. While you can’t visit your friends, you can exercise, eat a healthy meal and make sure you get a good night’s sleep. 

It’s the little wins that make a big difference.

Reach out for help if you need it

Seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness – in fact, it’s one of the strongest things you can do. We’ve listed a few places below where you can find help.

  • Beyond Blue – call 1300 224 636 or visit their website here.
  • headspace – call 1800 650 890 or visit their website here
  • Reach Out – visit their website here
  • LifeLine – call 13 11 14 or visit their website here