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Mental Health Awareness Week 2022: Tackling loneliness

Mental health awareness week

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, it aims to promote the message of good mental health for everyone.

This year’s theme is 'Loneliness'. Loneliness is affecting more and more of us and had a huge impact on our physical and mental health throughout the pandemic. Our ability to connect with other people and our community is fundamental to protecting our mental health.

Reducing loneliness is a major step towards creating a mentally healthy society and the NHS suggests some practical steps we can take to address it:

  • ✔ try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact the Samaritans by calling 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org if you need someone to talk to
  • ✔ consider joining a group or class that focuses on something you enjoy; you could ask to go along and just watch first if you're feeling nervous
  • ✔ consider visiting places where you can just be around other people – for example, a park, the cinema or a café. Increasingly, some public spaces like cafes, libraries and even park benches advertise that at certain times of the week, you can sit in their spaces and connect with others
  • ✔ consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. Find out more about peer support on the Mind website
  • ✔ try the 6 ways to feel happier, which are simple lifestyle changes to help you feel more in control and able to cope
  • ✔ find out how to raise your self-esteem
  • ✔ listen to free mental wellbeing audio guides
  • ✖ don’t try to do everything at once; set small targets that you can easily achieve
  • ✖ avoid focusing on the things you cannot change and use your time and energy to on achievable ‘small wins’ to make yourself feel better
  • ✖ try not to compare yourself to others. On social media you usually only see things people want to share
  • ✖ try not to use alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs to relieve loneliness; these can all contribute to poor mental health

How we live and work has changed massively over the last two years. The pandemic has shown us how easily we can become removed from regular contact with our friends, loved ones and even our colleagues. It has undermined our safety and reassurance in our everyday routines. It’s now more important than ever to recognise the value we get from regular interactions and meaningful connections with the people that matter the most.

Find out more

Get help with loneliness - NHS

Depression and anxiety self-assessment quiz - NHS (www.nhs.uk)