Isolation & Loneliness

Vancouver Foundation’s 2017 Connect & Engage report showed that most Metro Vancouver residents enjoy strong social connections. 8 out of 10 residents knows at least one neighbour well enough to ask for help, and 9 out of 10 has someone they can depend on. But some of us have been left behind.


When people are lonely or isolated, they’re less likely to connect with friends and neighbours and less likely to trust their community. But loneliness has a bigger impact: it’s residents who feel lonely, not those who spend too much time alone, who are at greatest risk of feeling disconnected.

What puts people at risk for loneliness and isolation?

Loneliness and isolation are different problems, but they reinforce each other: Lonely people are three times more likely to say they spend too much time alone. Isolated people are three times as likely to feel lonely.

Being young or unemployed doubles the risk of loneliness; a low household income doubles the risk of isolation and nearly triples the risk of loneliness.

What reduces isolation and loneliness? Community connection.

We can reduce isolation and loneliness if we...

  • Focus on friendliness: Both isolated and lonely people say it would be easier to make friends if people were friendlier or more approachable.
  • Talk to neighbours: While 43% of Metro residents talk to neighbours at least once a week, less than one in three lonely or isolated people gets that much contact.
  • Support mental health: 1 in 6 isolated people says that mental health affects their ability to make friends – which rises to 1 in 4 among lonely people.

As we continue to learn about the relationship between isolation, loneliness, and community health, we can better understand how to include all Metro Vancouver residents in the life of our community.

About This Report

This report is based on data from the Vancouver Foundation’s 2017 Connect + Engage report. All data comes from a survey that was administered by Mustel Group and completed online in either English or Chinese by 3,785 Metro Vancouver residents between June 15th and July 7th, 2017. Of these, 545 said they were either often or always lonely, and 862 said they spend time alone more often than they would like; all data points for “lonely” or “isolated” residents are based on these respondents. The final sample was weighted to match Statistics Canada census data on the basis of gender, age, and region of residence.

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