Mental health: Generation Z is now ‘the loneliest generation’

Young people suffer from'lower confidence' to make connections (Image:

Young people struggle to reconcile real and digital relationships (Image:

People under 24 — typically dubbed “Generation Z” — are the loneliest generation today, according to new research.

Activists have called for more to be done to address the impact of the pandemic and cost of living crisis on young people.

New data has shown that three times as many 16-24 year olds – 19% – compared to 65-74 year olds – at 6% – feel lonely often or always.

The study, published by Eden Project Communities, also found that young people and those living in cities are hit hardest by isolation, contrary to stereotypes that older people suffer the most.

Only 14% of the 16 to 24 year olds surveyed said they had never felt lonely.

London-based Steve Barnabis is determined to change the narrative around Gen Z and loneliness.

He lost his 16-year-old cousin to a knife crime in 2004 and went on to found the charity Project Zero.

He told “We see a wide range of issues across all the age groups that we work with.

Steve Barnabis works to bring young people together in real-world connections (Image: Project Zero)

Steve Barnabis works to bring young people together in real-world connections (Image: Project Zero)

“With the younger kids, there is definitely an increase in anxiety and lack of confidence and self-esteem.

“A lot of issues with motivation too, especially for those who have been taking exams during Covid. They think things like “what’s the point of going to school and taking exams for so many years”.

“The pandemic has been a real blow to many young people.”

In an ever-changing digital age, young people rely on digital connections rather than personal experiences.

Project Zero hosts a community center with a coffee shop, radio station and event space – so young people can enjoy real activities instead of staying at home.

The community-based project also offers youth engagement projects to promote social inclusion and reduce abusive and antisocial behavior.

Steve added: “There are phones and technology that these kids need to keep in touch with each other, but in some ways it’s harder for young people to connect with each other.

“After Covid, a lot of people are struggling to get out and socialize. There was a time when kids were more reliant on phones and pushed to rely on technology – so it’s going to be difficult to shift from that mindset.”


The latest Eden Communities data on loneliness examined the demographic profile of regions across England and Wales from the most recent 2021 census.

It confirmed that the highest proportion of young people live in city centers, where 17% of people report chronic loneliness.

Tracey Robbins, a practitioner at the Eden Project and a recognized expert on loneliness, said: “The levels of loneliness in younger adults can be related to social media, frequent life changes and transitions, or moving to cities where people often live alone or in one Room in a shared flat.

“Social restrictions of the pandemic have left a legacy that has led to reduced trust in connecting with others.

“Today, the rising cost of living limits social opportunities.

“The good news is that it can help to feel part of a community, so it’s a great motivator for everyone to reach out and connect.”

Tracey and Eden Project Communities have called on communities to work together to reduce isolation.

You could host a #BigLunch or visit the organization’s website for tips on how to help end the loneliness epidemic.

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Justin Scacco

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