The "worrying" level of loneliness in the UK has been revealed in two new studies, with figures suggesting younger generations suffer more than any other age group.

According to the surveys, up to two-thirds of Brits (64%) have felt lonely in the past year, with 18 to 24-year-olds and 25 to 34-year-olds the age groups most affected.

Major life changes such as becoming a new parent, bereavement or moving to a new area were all identified as key factors contributing to people’s loneliness, while shyness, a lack of money and the rise of social media were also named as factors.

The two pieces of research, carried out independently on behalf of Samaritans and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), both questioned more than 2000 people.

The Samaritans research, published on 'blue Monday', said to be the most miserable day of the year, also looked specifically at Scotland and found that - of the 169 Scots asked - more than half (57%) said they had experienced loneliness in the last 12 months.

Rachel Cackett, Executive Director of Samaritans Scotland, said: “As these figures show, loneliness is something that can affect us all, at any stage in our lives. But many of us may find it difficult to talk about, even with our family and friends."

As the charity called for 'Blue Monday' to become 'Brew Monday', encouraging more people to make time to talk, she added: "At Samaritans we know the power of taking time to talk and to listen and Brew Monday is an important reminder that we can all play a part. 

"Through simple, everyday actions, like making a time for a cuppa and a chat with a family member, friend or co-worker, we can re-connect with the people around us, encourage one another to talk openly when we’re going through a difficult time, and send a message that you don’t have to face things alone."

The Samaritans figures suggest that 82% of 25 to 34-year-olds have felt lonely in the last year, while RHS claimed young people aged 18 to 24 were most at risk, with 68 per cent experiencing loneliness.

To try to combat the problem, RHS is set to unveil a Friendship Garden at the 2020 RHS Chelsea Flower Show  to encourage people to make friends through gardening. 

Sue Biggs, RHS director general, said: “It’s worrying to see that half of all adults suffer from loneliness and it really does affect all ages.

“Loneliness is a key issue that can impact mental health and that’s why personal wellbeing is a key theme of the RHS Greening Great Britain for Friendship Garden.

“It’s clear from the study that the younger generation are affected by the digital age which has resulted in lack of face to face communication, while older demographics are suffering in silence living alone.

“We passionately believe gardening is good for mental health and want to encourage people to join local social gardening groups, garden with neighbours or volunteer in gardens in order to boost their wellbeing and confidence.”

The Samaritans survey also revealed that more than half of Brits (52%) say they are less likely to admit to being lonely because there is stigma attached.

Dame Julie Walters, who is backing the Brew Monday campaign, said: “Talking is really important – to get it out of your head and into the atmosphere and for someone to witness that, is important in life. I believe we need to listen, notice and talk to people."