The theme for this year's mental health awareness week is loneliness, which, considering the events of the last couple of years, is very relevant.
Loneliness affects many of us at some time or other, especially with the pandemic where we were unable to meet up with our families and friends. For those suffering with mental health issues this feeling of isolation would be all too familiar. As well as loneliness being a product of mental health problems it can be a key driver in causing them, so below are a few dos and don'ts to try and help yourself and others who are suffering.
While loneliness is a feeling we can all relate to, it can be difficult to admit to others that you are feeling this way. Sometimes it is easier to reach out to someone else who may be feeling lonely and in helping them you may feel less lonely yourself. A few simple ways of reaching out to someone else include: inviting them for a walk, catching up over coffee, if you're gamers; invite them to play... Any of these can help someone else realise they are not alone whilst helping you feel a little less lonely too.
- talk about your feelings with a friend or family member. Whether you meet up in person, chat over the phone, video chat or message on social media, any form of contact can reassure you that you are not alone.
- consider joining a group or class that centres on something you enjoy. Finding a group either online or in person can help you connect with new people.
- consider visiting places where you can just be around people; a park, cafe, the cinema...
- spend time doing things that you enjoy. Finding things that you enjoy and that occupy your mind can stop you focusing on feeling alone.
- consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. You can find out more about this on Mind.
- get advice and practical tips on looking after your mental health from Every Mind Matters
- help someone else feel connected. Reaching out to others can help both you and them.
- try to keep in touch with those around you. If you see a neighbour or acquiantance, take the time to smile, wave, chat - you never know how much you could help someone by these small actions and one day they may help you in the same way.
- you could volunteer. Places like NHS Responders or Age UK Telephone Befrienders would be a good start and you can help someone feeling alone.
- don't try to do everything at once; set small targets to achieve
- don't focus on things you can't change
- don't compare yourself to others. Try to remember that most people only share the positive side of life with others or on social media. You never know what someone else is going through.
- try not to tell yourself that you're alone; many people feel alone at some point in their life and support is always available
- try not to use alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs to relieve loneliness; these can all contribute to poor mental health
Where To Find Support:
Your GP - if you're struggling to cope with stress, anxiety or a low mood and it lasts for more than 2 weeks.
The Mix - free confidential help for under 25s
call 0808 808 4494,
text "THEMIX" to 85258
visit the Mix website.
Silverline - free 24 hour confidential telephone helpline offering information, friendship and advice to people over 55
call 0800 470 80 90
The Student Room - the largest online community with a range of different forums to help students get advice and support from others while studying
Mind Side by Side - - an online community for over 18s
Mumsnet - a great place to connect with other parents and carers
Gransnet - a social networking site for over 50s
Carers UK - offers expert telephone advice via it's support services whilst also having a forum where you can seek advice from others
call on 0808 808 7777
NCT - offers a range of free, community-based activities and events across the UK, providing social connection and support for parents
Mind - has information about dealing with loneliness and offers tips and advice for coping with it.
British Red Cross - their 'Tackling Loneliness Digitally' programme has some new resources to help build confidence, coping skills and connections for adults and young people.
The Campaign to End Loneliness - wants to inspire everyone to connect and bring communities together across the UK.
The Marmalade Trust - their dedicated to raising awareness of loneliness and helping people make new friendships.