Prolonged loneliness has hit high levels in New Zealand, particularly among young people, according to a new report.
A Loneliness New Zealand charitable trust report found loneliness in youth increased from 5.8 percent before COVID-19 struck to 20.8 percent during the lockdown, and remains high at 17 percent.
"It is disheartening that after lockdown, one in six of our youth feel lonely most or all of the time," said the report's author, Dr Spencer Scoular.
Youth loneliness levels are far higher than those of seniors, which were 3.9 percent after lockdown.
Loneliness among adults increased from 3.5 percent before the lockdown to 10.6 percent during the lockdown.
Other groups that continue to suffer more from loneliness since the lockdown has ended include sole parents at 18 percent, the unemployed at 16 percent, and Asians at 13 percent.
People with no qualifications, in a household with an income of less than $30,000 a year, and those with disabilities also suffered high levels of loneliness, the report stated.
"Conquering prolonged loneliness requires high quality meaningful relationships, rather than a large number of low quality superficial relationships," Scoular said.
Loneliness could remain a problem while higher unemployment, lower incomes, border restrictions, and working from home reduced people's meaningful connections with others, he said.