Mental Health Awareness Week

Róisín O'Connor Flanagan

Róisín O'Connor Flanagan

This year will celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week’s 21st anniversary and it has become one of the UK’s most recognised awareness weeks. Loneliness is this year’s theme and it aims to raise awareness for those in our communities who are struggling alone.

Loneliness and mental health

Loneliness is something we have all felt and experienced to some degree. When someone feels this for long periods of time, it can have a negative impact on their mental health. In many cases this can cause anxiety and depression. Loneliness can be both a driver and product of poor mental health and therefore it can be very difficult for those struggling to reach out for help and recognise the help they need.

Impacts of Covid

After two years of fluctuating levels of confinement due to Covid restrictions and lockdowns, everyone can relate to the emotions that isolation can provoke. Many elements of our day to day lives have changed as a consequence to Covid which may cause members of our community to feel disconnected.

What was once considered to be an issue with our aging population is now impacting those of all generations. Despite the fear of Covid nearly passing, many public services and day centres continue to curtail attendance. This for many people across a broad spectrum of society compounds the issue of loneliness.

Remote and hybrid working

As we know many workspaces have changed to remote or in some cases hybrid systems of work, and these new ways of working often leave us longing for closer connections with our colleagues. Within our communities we must learn how to reconnect with each other and revalue the importance of connectivity.

Hobbies, exercise and support

Doing things that you enjoy, such as hobbies, is a great way to get keep busy and get out of the house while giving yourself a sense of purpose. Simple physical activities like a daily walk are a great way of reducing anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed. Don’t forget to put yourself first and do what makes you happy: it’s important to self-care!

You can also get involved with groups that bring you comfort and support relevant to your needs. These groups and societies can be an excellent place to feel heard and accepted while understanding you are not alone in these feelings. Here are some ideas on coping with loneliness and improving mental health.

Acknowledging loneliness as a normal emotion and removing the stigma surrounding it can help those struggling to reach out and ask for help. Upskilling people in the workforce to use technology is another excellent way to encourage people to stay in touch with one another. Together we can tackle loneliness.

“I’ve been there”

Use the hashtag #IveBeenThere throughout the week and be mindful of people around you struggling. A great way to help is by sharing your experiences, to spread the message that loneliness can happen to us all at any stage of our lives. There is always a way through it!

Looking after mental health in your organisation

During materiality assessments we carry out for our clients as part of the development of a sustainability strategy, employee wellbeing including mental health is one topic that frequently comes up. Get in touch if you’d like to see what role mental health support can play in your organisation.

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