Nearly a third of Scottish people say they feel more lonely now than they did last year – despite the lifting of Covid restrictions.
A survey found almost two-thirds said they were “sometimes, often or always lonely” while the vast majority agreed that issues relating to loneliness were a problem across the country.
The study, carried out by YouGov on behalf of the British Red Cross, also warned the cost of living crisis could lead to further feelings of isolation as people cut off social engagements in an effort to save money.
A total of 30% of the 1,000 adults quizzed on their feelings of loneliness in the poll said they were more isolated now than they were in June 2021 as part of the research released during Loneliness Awareness Week.
Almost 90% of those surveyed agreed that the rising cost of living will make people think twice about spending money to socialise with friends or family, while 53% said they were already restricting how much they go out because of increasing costs.
Kenneth Watt, policy and public affairs manager with the British Red Cross, said: “Too many people are lonely in Scotland, and this has only got worse since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“These latest findings show that the rising cost of living is also leading to greater social isolation.
“It is vital that support is targeted at the most vulnerable and that further efforts are made to ensure all of us enjoy those quality human connections that enrich our lives.”
Just 12% of respondents said they never felt lonely in the survey, while 23% felt they did not have one close friend they could talk to openly.
Dr Jess Sussmann, policy lead at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland, said: “The pandemic and coming out of it, has caused a considerable amount of loneliness within vulnerable groups and as a society we’re now having to deal with the many problems which come from the cost-of-living crisis.
“It’s important that we all work together to tackle this problem.
“There is a range of support available including self-help apps and support groups, if you or a loved one is worried about loneliness and its impact on your mental health.”
Anyone aged 18 or over in Scotland who is struggling with loneliness or social isolation can contact the British Red Cross’ Connecting With You service on 0300 30 36 077 between 10.00am and 4.00pm, Monday to Friday.