Love Island star Dr Alex George has spoken about his experiences of loneliness to encourage people to listen to those who might be in need.
The A&E doctor is backing a Samaritans campaign to tackle feelings of isolation.
A report launched by the charity found loneliness can play a significant role in suicide risk among young people, with many citing the stigma around loneliness as the main reason preventing them getting the help they need.
Dr George said: “In my fourth year of medical school, I went away on a placement to Truro in Cornwall. Being far away, I felt incredibly isolated, which led me to feel lonely and unhappy, but I was lucky to have a few friends out there with me.
“They noticed I was feeling down and went out of their way to talk to me about how I was feeling. Something as simple as someone listening made a huge difference.”
The charity has dubbed the third Monday in January, which is often referred to as ‘Blue Monday’, ‘Brew Monday’ to encourage people to get together with friends, family and work colleagues who may be lonely for a cup of tea.
Dr George said: “Moments like Brew Monday can help make us more aware of the need to reach out to people who might be feeling lonely.
“Reaching out to someone over a cuppa could possibly make all the difference. It’s like the domino effect – a chain reaction of positive events.”
He stars in a video alongside Idles frontman Joe Talbot, radio presenter Gemma Cairney and poet Hussain Manawer to build a trail of biscuits shaped like dominoes to illustrate how reaching out to someone could be the start of them feeling less lonely, and the beginning of a positive domino effect.
Ruth Sutherland, CEO of Samaritans, said: “Days like Brew Monday can help raise awareness of loneliness as a national issue but, for too long, loneliness in young people has not been taken seriously. It’s time to put this right and listen to what they are telling us.
“Local areas desperately need more funding for appropriate services and opportunities across our communities that support young people to be listened to and to get any help they need.”
Samaritans volunteers will be handing out Brew Monday tea bags carrying the charity’s free number 116 123 at railway stations around the country.