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Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

We’re so pleased to hear that loneliness has been chosen as this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week! Since the pandemic, there’s been an increasing awareness of loneliness as a widespread, indiscriminate health issue that requires urgent attention and action. Being selected as the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week also confirms what we’ve known for a long time - that loneliness and mental health go hand-in-hand, and from our experience working with lonely people, it’s rare to see one without the other. Although people’s understanding of loneliness is changing it is still considered somewhat of a taboo topic. Many people don’t feel comfortable admitting they feel lonely, therefore may be reluctant to speak up and seek help. Fortunately, loneliness isn’t something that requires professional help. There are many things people can do to help themselves, which we’ve compiled into a poster for you to print and display in your workplace or anywhere else you see fit. Download our 'Tips for coping with Loneliness' poster here: A4 poster / A3 poster We’ll be active in the media and across our social media channels during the awareness week, so feel free to share any of our content if something catches your eye.

#noshameinsharing – Tim’s experience of loneliness

WaveLength CEO, Tim, shares his experience of loneliness and reveals the tools that helped him during that time. Q: When did you last feel lonely, and why? A: When I was living on my own after separation (divorce). Q: What did you do to help you cope with the feelings of loneliness you were experiencing? A: I found leaving the radio on to come home to was a great thing. Also having access to other media such as television and films was very helpful for me. Q: On a scale of 1-10, where would you rate loneliness as an emotion (1 being a pleasant emotion and 10 being a very unpleasant emotion)? A: I would rate it around about a 5 to a 7. I see it as a necessary human process that has a purpose. It’s something in-built within us. The difficulty is when it trips over and becomes a health issue. Q: Do you find it easy to talk to people about feeling lonely? Who do you turn to when you feel this way? A: I don’t feel inhibited by doing this and I think there’s a little bit of a myth that people do. I usually look to family members and friends to talk to, but I also believe that pets can be a great support. Forums and chat groups are useful too. Q: What advice would you give to someone else who is experiencing loneliness? A: Don’t necessarily feel awkward if you don’t want to talk about loneliness. There are many other things you can do to help yourself. I find going out and pursuing my sport in the countryside very helpful. It’s recognised that being outdoors in nature is one of the most effective ways of minimising feelings of loneliness. Combining that with social activities such as walking, riding a bike or horse, or pursuing an activity such as fishing or gardening, can be very beneficial. Q: Is there anything positive about loneliness? A: Yes, loneliness serves a real purpose and reminds people of the human need for connection. It’s a completely natural human emotion and feeling. We should not be scared of feeling lonely, but we also need to make sure that it does not tip over into a situation that is affecting our good mental health. We also have to respect that some people are happy being lonely and socially isolated. We need to understand that loneliness is a natural function and it’s not always doom and gloom despite being portrayed that way. Even people who are endemically lonely can respond dramatically to interventions, for example media technology (radios, TVs, tablets) that help them feel more connected.

#noshameinsharing – Nidhi’s experience of loneliness

Our Grants and Office Administrator, Nidhi, opens up about her experience of loneliness. Q: When did you last feel lonely, and why? A: During the winter lockdown in 2020 as I could not meet my closest friends and family. Even though I was working all through it from my office, it was like not having anything to look forward to socially and that was depressing. Q: What did you do to help you cope with the feelings of loneliness you were experiencing? A: Reading, talking to friends, online games, house decorations, yoga Q: On a scale of 1-10, where would you rate loneliness as an emotion (1 being a pleasant emotion and 10 being a very unpleasant emotion)? A: 10 - very unpleasant emotion Q: Do you find it easy to talk to people about feeling lonely? Who do you turn to when you feel this way? A: It's not easy, but I’m fortunate to have supportive friends whom I could discuss this with and feel heard and valued. Q: What advice would you give to someone else who is experiencing loneliness? A: Talk to someone about it if possible, seek help if you have no friends and family. Perhaps restarting a hobby that you enjoyed or voluntary work is another option to give you something to look forward to. Taking a walk to clear the mind is helpful as well.   Q: Is there anything positive about loneliness? A: I wouldn't say there is any positivity in loneliness for most people, but it could make you mentally stronger to cope with situations and make your way through them.

#noshameinsharing – Hannah’s experience of loneliness

Hannah shares her recent experience of loneliness. WaveLength's new Digital Fundraising and Communications Lead, Hannah, shares her recent experience of loneliness. Q: When did you last feel lonely, and why? A: Three months ago when I moved to a new area. I’d gotten used to having my partner and Mum around a lot then suddenly found myself home alone with my two young children as my partner went back to working 12 hour shifts as a paramedic and my Mum was now 200 miles away. At the time, my children hadn’t started school or nursery and we only had one car which my partner needed for work, so I spent a lot of time stuck in the house making the days feel extremely long! Q: What did you do to help you cope with the feelings of loneliness you were experiencing? A: When I first started feeling lonely, and because the feelings were quite intense, my Mum came down to stay with us for a few days which helped massively. We then decided to buy a second car so I could get out with the kids, which helped a lot too. I knew I was feeling lonely because of the current situation we were in, and I knew that once we got into the routine of school, nursery and work that things would get better. Q: On a scale of 1-10, where would you rate loneliness as an emotion (1 being a pleasant emotion and 10 being a very unpleasant emotion)? A: For me, it’s a big fat ten! I find it such an uncomfortable feeling and I feel sad knowing some people feel this way daily. Q: Do you find it easy to talk to people about feeling lonely, and who do you turn to when you feel this way? A: I do find it easy reaching out to my family and friends and telling them that I’m feeling lonely. I’m glad I shared it with them because they checked in on me more regularly and that definitely helped. Q: What advice would you give to someone else who is experiencing loneliness? A: Don’t suffer in silence. Talk to someone you feel comfortable sharing your feelings with and try to look for ways to change your situation, so you feel less lonely. You might not be able to completely change your situation, but there are probably things you can do to make it more tolerable. Q: Is there anything positive about loneliness? A: When I feel lonely, I seem to worry more about my friends and family who might be feeling lonely too. I become more empathetic to other people’s situations. Although it doesn’t make me feel better, it does make me want to do more to help ease their loneliness. I think it makes me more aware and that’s a positive thing because I then start to message or write to people more often or invite them to come and visit, knowing how much those things help me when I feel lonely. Another positive thing about loneliness is that it can be here one minute and gone the next. A small change (partner coming home from work, a catch up with a friend, a trip out somewhere) can make the feeling disappear in an instant. I like that it can be interrupted, unlike most other negative emotions that take a while to recede.