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Australian males and the loneliness epidemic

25 May 2023 - A/Prof Tim Moss

Ben is an 18-year-old university student. He moved from his regional home to the city 3 months ago.  Ben presents for COVID vaccination. During conversation, Ben mentions that he misses his friends and family.

Ben expresses disappointment with a self-perceived inability to make friends. He says he feels like he doesn’t fit in with other students in his course. He seems frustrated that the time needed for studying, and his job at a fast-food restaurant, make him feel like he doesn’t have time to play footy. He says that some days he feels like his decision to go to university was a mistake.

Ben is certainly not socially isolated – he interacts with dozens of people each day – but you wonder if he might be lonely.  Asking Ben directly, “how often do you feel lonely?” can help you to assess Ben’s level of loneliness.

One in four Australian adults are lonely, but rates are highest in young men; particularly those who live alone.

Loneliness is a subjective feeling of a lack of connection to other people, and a desire for more satisfying social relationships. Loneliness is not the same as social isolation, which is a state of having minimal contact with others(1).

Loneliness is associated with poor mental and physical health, and premature death(2).

Although loneliness can be distinct from social isolation, helping lonely people to increase their social connections can be helpful because it increases the opportunity to form meaningful connections with others(3). Joining sports clubs or other social groups, or volunteering, can provide activity that distracts from possible social anxiety.

Ben tells you that he does feel lonely, and you suggest that joining the university football club might help him to meet people with whom he shares common interests. When Ben visits for a subsequent travel vaccination appointment, he thanks you for the advice. He is a valued member of the university football club, works part-time in the university sports and recreation centre, and is doing well with his studies.




  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021, Social Isolation and Loneliness, Australian Government, Canberra [Source: verified 24 May 2023]

  1. Hawkley, L.C. Loneliness and health. Nat Rev Dis Primers 8, 22 (2022).

  2. Flood, 2005. Mapping loneliness in Australia. The Australia Institute

A/Prof Tim Moss
A/Prof Tim Moss

Associate Professor Tim Moss BSc PhD is Health Content Manager at Healthy Male and holds an adjunct appointment in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Monash University. He is listed among the top 2% of most influential scientists of all time in the field of obstetrics and reproductive medicine.

Tim joined Healthy Male in 2020 after 25 years of working in academia and medical research. Tim learned science communication at the Alan Alda Centre for Science Communication and the School of Journalism at Stony Brook University, and the SciComm Lab in the Department of Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

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