Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May) - Loneliness
By Rachel Dineley
This year's theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is Loneliness. Almost all of us have felt lonely at one time or another. It's a natural feeling and not a mental health condition in itself. So why focus on it? Because unless we acknowledge it, talk about it and take appropriate action, it can lead to a deterioration in health.
We all recognise that the isolating effects of social distancing during the pandemic has had an impact on many people. But it need not, and should not, be a lasting impact. Now is the time to think about what we can do to address it.
Loneliness is normal, and we should talk about it as such. Whether we ourselves are lonely or talking to someone else who is, having the conversation can be very helpful. By exploring the nature of our feelings and sharing them, we can often discover the best ways of addressing them. Lots of us have lost a bit of confidence through the isolation of the pandemic. Now the summer weather is coming, and we can be out and about more, it's worth thinking about whether there are others who may be feeling the same. Would they welcome a phone call, or an invitation to a walk in the park, a chat over a cuppa or a drink in the pub? Might you knock on a neighbour's door to see how they are doing? A warm smile speaks volumes.
There are lots of different ways of getting connected, with the possibility of making new friends, getting involved in new projects or hobbies, or participating in group activities, such as volunteering.
There are good advice and ideas to be had, if this is a topic of interest to you. Buckinghamshire Mind has some suggestions: https://www.bucksmind.org.uk/exploring-loneliness-through-art/
Good guidance is given by Marmalade Trust, the UK's leading loneliness charity for all ages and the only charity in the world specifically dedicated to raising awareness of loneliness: https://www.marmaladetrust.org/lonelinessguide
Rachel Dineley, Diversity Officer.