La Trobe
1259028_Caple,V_2023.pdf (676.01 kB)

An exploration of loneliness experienced by people living with mental illness and the impact on their recovery journey: An integrative review

Download (676.01 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-20, 03:11 authored by Vanessa CapleVanessa Caple, Phillip MaudePhillip Maude, Ruth Walter, Alistair RossAlistair Ross
What is known on the subject?: There is evidence that social isolation and loneliness is more prevalent in people living with mental illness than in the general population. People living with mental illness frequently experience stigma, discrimination, rejection, repeated psychiatric admissions, low self-esteem, low self-efficacy, and increased symptoms of paranoia, depression, and anxiety. There is evidence of common interventions that can be used to improve loneliness and social isolation such as psychosocial skills training and cognitive group therapy. What the paper adds to existing knowledge?: This paper offers a comprehensive assessment of the evidence between mental illness, loneliness, and recovery. The results suggest that people living with mental illness experience elevated levels of social isolation and loneliness leading to poor recovery and quality of life. Social deprivation, social integration and romantic loneliness are related to loneliness, poor recovery, and reduced quality of life. A sense of belonging, ability to trust and hope are important aspects of improved loneliness, quality of life and recovery. What are the implications for practice?: The existing culture in mental health nursing practice needs to be examined to address loneliness in people living with mental illness and its impact on recovery. Existing tools to research loneliness do not consider dimensions in loneliness experience as reflected in the literature. Practice needs to demonstrate an integrated approach to recovery, optimal service delivery and augmentation of evidence-based clinical practice to improve individual's loneliness, social circumstances, and relationships. Practice needs to demonstrate nursing knowledge in caring for people living with mental illness experiencing loneliness. Further longitudinal research is required to clearly understand the relationship between loneliness, mental illness, and recovery. Abstract: Introduction: To our knowledge, there are no previous reviews on the impact of loneliness experienced by people aged 18–65, who are living with mental illness and their recovery experience. Aim/Question: To explore the experience and impact of loneliness in people living with mental illness during recovery. Method: An integrative review. Results: A total of 17 papers met the inclusion criteria. The search was conducted using four electronic databases: MEDLINE, CINAHL, Scopus and PsycINFO. Across these 17 papers, participants were most commonly, diagnosed with schizophrenia or psychotic disorders and recruited from community mental health services. Discussion: The review revealed loneliness to be substantial in people living with mental illness and that loneliness affected their recovery, and their quality of life. The review identified many factors that contribute to loneliness including unemployment, financial strain, social deprivation, group housing, internalized stigma and mental illness symptoms. Individual factors such as social/community integration and social network size as well as an inability to trust, a sense of not belonging, hopelessness and lack of romance were also evident. Interventions targeting social functioning skills and social connectedness were found to improve social isolation and loneliness. Implications for Practice: It is vital for mental health nursing practice to employ an approach integrating physical health as well as social recovery needs, optimal service delivery and augmentation of evidence-based clinical practice to improve loneliness, recovery, and quality of life.


Publication Date



Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing






22p. (p. 1170-1191)





Rights Statement

© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

Usage metrics

    Journal Articles


    Ref. manager