University of Oulu

Anna Reetta Rönkä, Vappu Sunnari & Anja Taanila (2020) Entanglements of loneliness and mental ill health among young adult women, International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, 15:1, DOI: 10.1080/17482631.2020.1838101

Entanglements of loneliness and mental ill health among young adult women

Saved in:
Author: Rönkä, Anna Reetta1; Sunnari, Vappu2; Taanila, Anja3
Organizations: 1History of Sciences and Ideas, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Gender Studies, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.7 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Informa, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-11-02


Purpose: If a person experiences both loneliness and mental ill health, it may have severe effects on a person’s wellbeing and functioning. This study explored the ways in which loneliness may be entangled with mental ill health and the factors that contribute to the development of such entanglements.

Methods: The study participants were women from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 study, who, in 2001–2002, responded to the survey about being very lonely at the age of 15–16. Women (n = 17) were interviewed again at age 27–28 with semi-structured interviews. Data was analysed with thematic analysis.

Results: Loneliness and mental ill health formed four types of entanglements: Entanglement 1 (E1): “Loneliness periodically evoked depressive feelings”; E2: “Loneliness and depressive feelings formed an ongoing spiral”; E3: “Loneliness and diagnosed depression/serious emotional disturbance formed periodic spirals;” and E4: “Serious emotional disturbance/mental illness and loneliness formed an ongoing, difficult spiral.” Social adversities like unsafe family environment, lack of close friends, and school violence contributed to the development of Entanglements 1–3. In Entanglement 4, serious mental health disorder caused loneliness.

Conclusions: oneliness was centrally linked to mental health issues in the present study and should be taken into consideration when providing mental health prevention and treatment.

see all

Series: International journal of qualitative studies on health and well-being
ISSN: 1748-2623
ISSN-E: 1748-2631
ISSN-L: 1748-2623
Volume: 15
Issue: 1
Article number: 1838101
DOI: 10.1080/17482631.2020.1838101
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 616 Other humanities
516 Educational sciences
520 Other social sciences
Copyright information: © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.