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Aug 4, 2021

Using e-learning to tackle loneliness in students

Loneliness has been described as ‘the other devastating pandemic’ that is also harmful for our physical and mental health and affects millions of people worldwide. 

Students and trainees are a group of people that we have identified who can particularly suffer from loneliness, often exacerbated with leaving home for the first time, feelings of ‘fear of missing out’, social anxiety, home sickness and having to make new friends and relationships. 

However, being socially isolated does not necessarily equate to being lonely – it’s not about the quantity of the interactions but about the quality of them. It’s about having authentic relationships with others, feelings of trust, being a part of things, and being valued that matters.

New e-learning programme

Here at Health Education England (HEE) we have been working with key partners to create the Tackling Loneliness and Social Isolation e-learning programme. 

The programme is aimed at health and social care workers and is a direct response to the 2017 call to action from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness to ‘equip people with information about the potential triggers for loneliness and ensure they know where to go for support.’

The programme sessions enable learners to:

  • Understand the importance of loneliness and social isolation as a risk factor for negative health outcomes. 
  • Be able to recognise people within their practice at risk of loneliness and social isolation through an understanding of the risk factors and key risk groups. 
  • Be able to have conversations with people, in order to identify if an individual is likely to be at risk of, or experiencing loneliness and social isolation. 
  • Have knowledge of the available range of evidence-based interventions for loneliness, and know how to refer or signpost those identified at risk of loneliness and social isolation.
  • Where it is relevant to their role, be able to have ongoing interactions with clients with loneliness and social isolation to ensure ongoing care. 

As a society, we can all play a part in tackling loneliness in ourselves and others if we understand and get to know the signs of loneliness. This e-learning programme will help us with that.

If you would like to share your thoughts on the e-learning programme and its resources, please visit the feedback survey.

Case study written by Libby Potter - Head of Portfolio Health Education England (HEE)

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