A report has found the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened young people's mental health, with increasing numbers reporting loneliness and social exclusion.

A new study reveals that endemic loneliness amongst young people in the United Kingdom has accelerated amidst the pandemic.

The study found that the number of those under-35 saying they have just one or no close friends has tripled in 10 years, from 7 percent to 22 percent, while the share with four or more friends has fallen from 64 percent to 40 percent.

"Young people are suffering an epidemic of loneliness", said Will Tanner, the director of the think-tank Onward who carried out the study.

If the crisis of loneliness is not addressed, said Tanner, it will have grave consequences and "erode the glue that holds our society together."

The report titled the 'Age of Alienation' warns that "after decades of community decline and fifteen months of rolling lockdowns, young people have fewer friends, trust people less, and are more alienated from their communities than ever before. And it is getting worse with every generation."

Another trend observed is that compared to 20 years ago, those under-35 were less likely to speak with neighbours and borrow or exchange favours with them, an activity that imbues trust within communities.

Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, and Generation Z, those born between 1997 and 2012, were less likely to be members of a group such as a religious foundation or participate in group activities.

Increasingly younger people are less likely to trust other people, with those over 35 more likely to trust others.

Lord James O'Shaughnessy, one of the report authors, said following the report that it "reveals that Britain's fraying social fabric is not just geographic in nature but generational."

"Each new cohort of young people is less interwoven with, and supported by, wider society than the one before it," added O'Shaughnessy.

"This is profoundly worrying. Strong social attachments are the foundation of democratic society and the basis for human health and prosperity," said O'Shaughnessy.

In order to reverse the trends, the report put forward a series of recommendations that could reverse the generational alienation sweeping Britain's youth.

The authors are encouraging the government to introduce paid civic service that could last up to one year and would encourage young people to work on social activities aimed at the community.

Another suggestion laid out in the report is for young people to have greater access to public spaces that would foster people coming together.

Younger people increasingly feel insecure about their future, jobs and wages, which has resulted in many being locked out of the property market as rents and house prices have spiralled upwards.

The report suggests that the government could build 500,000 new homes, which would be offered at discounted rent in a bid to allow young people to put down roots and save towards homeownership.

When another mental health charity looked into loneliness in the UK amongst young people, it found during the pandemic, more than 35 percent said they feel "lonely often or most of the time despite spending three hours on social media."

The numbers were even worse amongst 18-24-year-olds, with almost half reporting feeling lonely.

It found that "the stereotype of the lonely, elderly person may cause us to overlook loneliness in other age groups," particularly at a young age.

If not dealt with, the mental health charity warned, "social isolation and loneliness increased the risk of depression, and possibly anxiety."

Source: TRT World