Mental Health Awareness Week
Mental Health Awareness Week 9th – 15th May 2022
Mental Health Awareness Week was formed 21 years ago by The Mental Health Foundation (established in 1949). In the US, Mental Health Awareness Week is observed in October, coinciding with World Mental Health Day on 10th October.
This annual event enables us in the UK to have an opportunity to focus on achieving good mental health. This event has grown to become one of the biggest awareness weeks across the UK and globally.
Each year the Foundation continues to set the theme. The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is loneliness, which is fitting when you consider the events of the last two years.
Loneliness can be referred to as an unwelcome feeling we experience when there is a mismatch between the social relationships we have and those that we would like to have i.e. we feel that there is something missing or lacking in the quality of our social relations.
Why Loneliness is this year’s theme
The Mental Health Foundations CEO Mark Rowland has shared his own experience of loneliness. He said “I was in my early thirties the first time I knew I was lonely. My marriage had disintegrated, I was living in a new flat and I was travelling 120 miles a week to see my young son. The feeling of loneliness was crushing as I struggled to keep in contact with friends and family at exactly the time when I needed them the most.!”
During the past few years, we’ve all missed being able to see and talk to our families and friends in the flesh. We have longed for freedom and physical contact with the people we love and make us feel safe. The isolation we experienced was something new and no doubt will have had a profound impact on our mental health.
This is defined as brief and occasional lonely moods. These periods of loneliness tend to be only short lived or temporary and can be more easily addressed.
This can come about during any change a person considers to be a significant upheaval. It is brought about by often sudden, unexpected or enforced changes to life circumstances and environment.
- New employment or a new job role at a current place of employment
- Becoming a parent
- Separation from family or friends
- Recent break-up or separation
- Graduating from College or University
- Temporary physical limitations due to health-related issues
- Sudden development of a disability or illness
- Sudden physical or social distancing, such as during the pandemic
- Changes a person finds to be a significant disruption to their typical routine, including interpersonal conflicts
- Bullying, harassment or discrimination
- Leaving Care
- Poor health
- Post Natal Depression
- Children leaving home
- Moving home
- Loss of employment
- Divorce/separation or relationship breakdown
- Moving into Care
- Living with a disability
Chronic loneliness is a term to describe loneliness that’s experienced over a long period of time.
Chronic loneliness can also involve the following symptoms and health risks:
- Decreased energy
- Feeling foggy or unable to focus
- Insomnia, interrupted sleep, or other sleep issues
- Decreased appetite
- Feelings of self-doubt, hopelessness, or worthlessness
- A tendency to get sick frequently
- Body aches and pains
- Feelings of anxiousness or restlessness
- Increased shopping habits
- Alcohol and drugs misuse
- Increased desire to binge-watch shows or movies
- Cravings for physical warmth, such as hot drinks, baths, or cosy clothes and blankets
- Alzheimer’s disease progression
- Antisocial behaviour
- Cardiovascular disease and stroke
- Depression and suicide
- Increased stress levels
- Poor decision-making
Lifestyle changes could help you feel less lonely:
- Stay in touch with loved ones
- Volunteer or participate in community events
- Try a new hobby
- Get out of the house
- Get a pet
- Try to develop new relationships
- Understand the effects of loneliness on your life
- Talk to people you can trust
Loneliness can have a serious effect on your health, so it is important to be able to recognise signs that you are feeling lonely. It is also important to remember that being alone isn’t the same as being lonely.
British Red Cross https://www.redcross.org.uk
Mental Health Foundation https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk
There are lots of ways you can get involved with the Mental Health Foundation, whether you’re an individual, a group, or an organisation, they would love to hear from you. With your involvement we can help to create a world with good mental health for all.
The Mental Health Foundation have various packs to download varying from wellbeing fundraising packs, Publications and resource posters and graphics to use on your blogs and posts.
For more information