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Together we can tackle loneliness: Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week is an opportunity for people to talk about all aspects of mental health, with a focus on providing help and advice. This year, the theme will explore the experience of loneliness, its effect on our mental health and how we can all play a part in reducing loneliness in our communities.

Loneliness affects millions of people in the UK every year and is a key driver of poor mental health. The Mental Health in the Pandemic research has found that loneliness has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Loneliness has been an important factor contributing to higher levels of distress, resulting from people’s sense of isolation and reduced ability to connect with others.  Further polling also found that loneliness was one of the leading issues that the public felt needed to be addressed. With many of us working from home and adjusting to life after the pandemic, there is a chance some may be feeling a little less sociable and struggling with our mental health as a result of loneliness.

This week is centred around encouraging people to build meaningful connections with friends, family, colleagues and communities. It is important to remember that loneliness is an issue that can affect us all, young or old, at any point in our lives. Whether you live in a busy city or a rural location, on your own or with others and still feel isolated. This week is a chance to lessen the stigma surrounding loneliness and open up to others about how you may be feeling, as well as speak to those who may be struggling.

There are endless ways in which we can communicate and grow relationships, from joining online groups or inviting a colleague to your favourite local café, to signing up to volunteer in your local community or taking part in group exercise, there’s no shortage of ways to meet new people.

Here are some tips on how to feel less lonely, as well as useful links:

  1. Keep in touch with people around you: talk to friends and family. Sometimes a friendly chat can make a big difference.
  2. Join a group: find a group with a shared interest. Being part of an offline or online group or club is a great way to make connections and meet people. Think about activities that you would like to try out and look for groups centred around these.
  3. Volunteer: We know that volunteering can make a big difference to other people, worthwhile causes, and the whole community, but the benefits can be even greater for you! It can help you to find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills and improve your physical and mental health.
  4. Do things you enjoy: spending time outdoors in green spaces, doing an exercise you love and visiting new places are just some of the ways to boost your mood and occupy your mind. Get inspired by our activities and challenges.
  5. Share your feelings – but do not compare yourself to others: being able to talk about how you feel with others can help with loneliness and hearing a familiar voice or seeing a friendly face makes us feel less isolated.
  6. Help someone else feel connected – reach out to others: think about people you know who might be feeling lonely and try to connect with them. Try to keep in touch with those around you too. If you pass neighbours or acquaintances on the street, take the time to smile, wave and chat. You could offer to swap phone numbers or create a local group chat to stay connected.

Below are some links included that may be of use, or to forward on to someone you know may be struggling.

Mindline – Mind in Somerset

Somerset’s Mental Health Alliance – Open Mental Health

Every Mind Matters – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Insight Timer – #1 Free Meditation App for Sleep, Relax & More

Podcast | The Somerset Emotional Wellbeing Podcast (castos.com)

R;pple Suicide Prevention (ripplesuicideprevention.com)

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