September 15, 2021
Current research has shown that young adults are at the greatest risk of loneliness during the pandemic. Drawing upon the Understanding Society COVID-19 survey, this study investigated the trajectory of loneliness in young adults (aged 18-25) from June to November 2020 and its association with emotional support as well as demographic and health factors. The analytic sample included 419 young adults (296 females; 123 males). Growth curve modelling revealed a U-shape longitudinal trend in self-reported loneliness, with a sharp rise during the winter months under the national lockdown. Young adults with long-standing physical or mental health conditions were more likely to report feeling lonely. Those with a lower household income and who were unemployed or not in school reported higher levels of loneliness. Gender was found to moderate the association between self-reported emotional support and loneliness. While greater emotional support was associated with less loneliness in males, no association was shown for females. The current findings add to our understanding of how the pandemic has affected the mental health of young adults and the differential effect of emotional support as a potential coping strategy for males and females.