Helpline: Loneliness an issue for thousands of women

Loneliness (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Arief Rahman Saan)Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Arief Rahman Saan

Loneliness is a major issue in the Netherlands, especially among women between the ages of 30 and 60 years. This is according to annual figures of Sensoor, the 24 hour anonymous helpline for people who need someone to talk to.

Last year Sensoor received some 250 thousand phone calls, messages or emails. Some 70 thousand callers - 28 percent of the total - called because of loneliness. Psychological problems, 20 percent, and relationship problems, 10 percent, were also frequently heard themes.

According to the helpline, people who do not have a network of friends and family often give them a call. People call only to hear another voice, sometimes after not speaking to anyone in days. Elderly people in particular are at risk of social loneliness, due to the death of a partner, friends and relatives.

Loneliness can also happen among people with a large social network. Sometimes people feel that they can't talk to friend or family, because they're ashamed, do not want to burden anyone else or feel misunderstood. This is defined as emotional loneliness. Sensoor's anonymity make it easier for these people to tell their stories.

Another form of loneliness comes from social isolation, often due to serious mental or physical problems that make it difficult to sustain and deepen relationships.

Sensoor volunteers are trained to recognize these types of loneliness and how to deal with it. "The Sensoor volunteers can not solve loneliness, but can soften it. Through a human-to-human conversation the other feels recognized and heard and sliding further into a negative spiral can be prevented."