Loneliness is believed to be as unhealthy as obesity and smoking, and last May leading operators told Spa Business how the industry can help (see SB18/2 p58). By adopting a thoughtful, more inclusive approach spas, with their touch-based treatments, mindfulness therapies and group sessions, are perfectly positioned to reach out to those feeling isolated.
While operators would be forgiven for assuming that older adults are the biggest audience, a new survey reveals that young people between the ages of 16 and 24 experience loneliness more keenly.
Around 55,000 participants from 237 countries took part in the BBC’s Loneliness Experiment, making it the largest of its kind in the world. The results show that 40 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds around the world feel lonely ‘often’ or ‘very often’, compared to only 29 per cent of people aged between 65 to 74, and 27 per cent of 75 and overs.
The survey also shows that young people who report higher levels of loneliness have more online-only Facebook friends than those who report lower levels.
Speaking to UK newspaper The Telegraph Claudia Hammond, who instigated the project, says the findings challenge the stereotype of the isolated elderly, suggesting, instead, an epidemic of loneliness amongst the young.
“I wondered where there is something about the stress of modern life, or young people’s ability to cope with it, that makes them feel lonelier. Or is youth simply a time of life when people feel isolation most keenly?” she asked.
“Young people today have social media. They are more connected than ever before. But this can bring its own problems. If you’re feeling lonely, looking at pictures of other people appearing to have endless fun isn’t going to help with those feelings of isolation.”
Spa Business identified loneliness as an industry trend in 2014: http://lei.sr/H5P3A. It also reported on the impact of loneliness and how spas can position themselves to help address the problem in more depth in issue 2 2015: http://lei.sr/3v3r8 and issue 2 2018: http://lei.sr/H3K1p