Young people suffer from “skin hunger,” as loneliness increases for under 25s during the pandemic

The Mix Staff
Two young people are talking on a bench

Research from The Mix and You Gov shows an increase of young people suffering from loneliness and a lack of physical contact

6 April 2021, LondonResearch conducted by charity The Mix has shown that two in five (39%) of 16–25-year-olds felt always or often lonely in the past 12 months, with an additional 41% feeling lonely sometimes.

Although loneliness is an issue that many young people were experiencing before lockdown, it’s clear that things have got worse, as 77% of young people agree that the pandemic has made them feel lonelier.

Almost two thirds (60%) of young people who said they had felt lonely in the past 12 months were missing physical contact with other people, an experience also known as skin hunger. Studies have shown that touch makes you feel calmer and happier so it’s unsurprising that being deprived of this would have such a huge impact on our mental health.

Generally, there is a stigma around admitting to feeling lonely, research revealed that 62% of all young people believe that this is the case. This stigma is particularly rife among males, with 65% agreeing that there is a stigma around admitting to feelings of loneliness compared to 59% of females.

The research has also shown that feelings of loneliness can lead to damaging behaviours in young people, with 42% feeling the urge to drink alcohol, 19% feeling the urge to self-harm and 16% feeling the urge to take drugs.

Groups that are more at risk of loneliness than others:

  • Females were more likely to have felt always or often lonely in the past 12 months (44%) than males (34%).
  • Over half of unemployed young people have often or always felt lonely in the last 12 months.
  • 39% of students strongly agreed that the coronavirus pandemic has made them feel more lonely – this compares to 28% among young people at work.
  • Bisexual young people are most likely to have experienced loneliness.

 The Mix wants to empower young people to speak out about their experience of loneliness, to seek support when they need it and to feel able to make connections with others. 

Zoe Bailie, Director of Brand & Development at The Mix, commented: 

“This brand-new research on young people and loneliness shows us how isolated and disconnected young people have become as a direct result of the pandemic. By depriving them of face-to-face contact with their communities and support networks, lockdown has made an existing problem even worse, leading to poor mental health and even suicide. The Mix is offering young people the connection they’ve been missing in real life through our online moderated spaces such as group chats, where they can become part of a safe, supportive community. We also offer online 1-2-1 counselling which can support young people to be ready to face the world again.”

Chloe Combi, Writer, panellist and youth expert, commented:

“Loneliness has been a growing problem for young people pre-pandemic. Ironically, the most hyper-connected generation have also become one of the most isolated, with a significant decline in socialising and social spaces/opportunities for young people. Loneliness is a huge factor in the decline in mental health wellness of young people and we should make it a national priority to fix this quiet but dangerous national epidemic.”

 As part of their long-term partnership offering vital mental health and emotional wellbeing support and guidance to people under 25 The Mix and streaming service NOW are launching a series of online Watch Clubs throughout April to help reduce young people’s increasing feelings of loneliness.

Marina Storti, Managing Director, NOW said:  

“NOW’s ongoing partnership with The Mix aims to start important conversations around mental health, well-being and help make an impact on the communities in which young people live and work. We hope that the weekly Watch Clubs will help bring under 25s together and offer a connection to others through discussion around the themes shown in some of the brilliant movies available on NOW.” 

With over 26% of young people seeking interactive online activities to combat loneliness, the weekly Watch Clubs will bring young people together and offer connection with others through a screening and discussion of the key themes depicted in one of the blockbuster films available on NOW. The Mix and NOW will be continuing the conversation between Watch Clubs through The Mix’s social channels and online community whilst providing practical support with a range of support resources focused on loneliness.

The Mix and NOW’s Watch Clubs will be kicking off on Friday 1st April with rom com classic Bridget Jones’s Diary, followed every week by a range of blockbuster, award-winning films available on NOW from Rocketman to Just Mercy.

Notes to editors: 

Two young people from The Mix’s community are available to speak to press about their experience of loneliness.

Youth expert, Chloe Combi, is available to speak about their professional experience of young people and loneliness.

Zoe Bailie, Director of brand and Development at The Mix is also available to speak about the charity’s work with young people and around the issue of loneliness.

If you need any more information or to schedule an interview with one of our spokespeople, please contact Françoise (PR Consultant) – [email protected]
Phone: 07599494848 or 07766660755 

 All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,023 16-25 year olds, of which 1,007 chose to answer the survey. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th January – 3rd February 2021.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK 16-25 year olds.

 All assets, including the whitepaper, can be accessed here:

About The Mix 

The Mix is the UK’s leading digital charity for under 25s, reaching over 4 million young people each year. Whatever issue a young person is facing, The Mix is always there for them – via our website, over the phone or via social media. We connect young people to experts and their peers to talk about everything from money to mental health, homelessness to jobs, break-ups to drugs and more.  

The Mix’s mission is to ensure that every young person can make an informed choice about their wellbeing – wherever and whenever they are. We aim to put young people at the centre of everything we do. – 0808 808 4994 

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About NOW

NOW is the home of brilliant entertainment. We’re one of the UK’s leading streaming platforms with critically acclaimed shows, new and exclusive movies, unmissable sport and epic kids TV – all with no contract. Join in with an Entertainment, Cinema, Sports, Kids or hayu Membership to stream instantly across TV, mobile, desktop and over 60 other devices. Watch on the go and even offline with our app by downloading shows and movies.

Entertainment Members can enjoy critically acclaimed dramas, documentaries and comedies, Emmy award-winning shows, the best of HBO and exclusive Sky Originals. Cinema Members can discover over 1000 brilliant movies, from the latest blockbusters and classic favourites and a new premiere every day. Sports Members cheer on unmissable Premier League, international cricket, F1, golf and more – all live, across 11 Sky Sports channels. 

Plus, members can enhance their experience with NOW Boost – that’s full 1080p HD, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and streaming on up to 3 devices at once, for an extra £3 a month. 

For super-fast broadband, members can enjoy a contract-free connection with a NOW Brilliant Broadband, Fab Fibre or Super Fibre Membership.




Published on 06-Apr-2021

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