The Hanzehogeschool will be conducting the research
A large, two-year study has started in Groningen into loneliness among students. The aim is to find ways to reduce loneliness and make it more discussable, reports RTV Noord. The EAST project (Loneliness Approach to Students), will be carried out by the Hanzehogeschool.
Willem Vos, who is one of the researchers, says: “we want to investigate how loneliness among students can be discussed and reduced. We will do this by, among other things, entering into discussions with students that have experienced loneliness, but also with student psychologists, lecturers and counselors. We want to hear from them ideas about what we can all do against loneliness and how it can be discussed.”
According to Vos, loneliness is already an urgent topic of interest , but the need to study it has grown during the Coronavirus outbreak: “that is an advantage for our research”, he says.
The research will focus in particular on social and emotional loneliness. “Social loneliness is when you lack a network. Not enough friends or family around you. You have emotional loneliness when you miss someone with whom you can honestly exchange thoughts about what you are feeling and experiencing.”
Social media often appears to play a role in the development of feelings of loneliness, says Vos. “When you see images of rich friends, of a perfect life and of all the activities that take place there, you can get a feeling of ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO). Like, ‘other people are so happy and smart and sociable and wonderful, and I just sit in my room’.”
From conversations that have been held with students so far, shame appears to play a major role, “in that in a group were students knew each other, but did not know that they were lonely too. Apparently it is not a common topic to discuss.”
Something that Vos and his colleague are trying to change with the help of the research they are doing. “If we manage to break the taboo around loneliness, that would be fantastic.”