This May is Mental Health Awareness Month, with Monday 9th May until Sunday 15th May 2022 being Mental Health Awareness week. You may have heard of this campaign in previous years, but we want to give you the lowdown on this year’s campaign which is focused on loneliness. We will also be giving you some tips on how to improve your mental health and some useful resources if you are struggling.
What is Mental Health Awareness Week?
Mental Health Awareness Week is a yearly campaign by The Mental Health Foundation. This year, mental health awareness week takes place from the 9th of May till the 15th of May 2022. Each year the theme changes, with this year focussing on loneliness. This theme is very relevant to the current environment as many people have felt lonely or isolated due to COVID-19. Unfortunately, many people have lost loved ones as a result of the pandemic and have felt alone and lost. With things opening up and restrictions lifting, some people are struggling to get back to ‘normal’ living and the feeling of loneliness is not fading. The Mental Health Foundation say that “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.”
They hope to spread awareness of how impactful loneliness can be on mental health, as well as tips on how to address it correctly.
Loneliness in the UK- Mental Health Awareness Week 2022
A report by Campaign to End Loneliness stated that “Loneliness is likely to increase your risk of death by 26%.” This shocking figure emphasises how serious and devastating loneliness can be. As with many mental issues, loneliness shows itself physically in detrimental ways and can lead to increased chances of diseases such as dementia, high blood pressure and depression. In a report by Ons.gov, they state that “adults aged 16 to 24 years reported feeling lonely more often than those in older age groups.” You may think is strange in a world where communication is at your fingertips. So why is this? Although there is no clear answer, there are a range of factors that could be causing this immense feeling of loneliness in young adults.
- A lack of communication with friends and family
- Moving out of their family home alone/ without a roommate, friend, partner, sibling etc.
- Caring responsibilities
- Health issues
How can I get involved in Mental Health Awareness Week 2022?
There are many ways you can get involved with the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) for awareness week.
The first is through education. The MHF provide a Loneliness School Pack that allows teachers to educate children on the feeling of loneliness and how impactful it is on people’s mental health. This is very important as it was reported by a YouGov poll (2019) that 69% of 13-19-year-olds said they felt alone “often” or “sometimes.” Educating children on how to deal with loneliness could help decrease this number and improve children and young adult’s mental health overall.
Wear it Green
Additionally, you can take part in the “Wear it Green” fundraiser. This is the MHF’s flagship fundraiser that is usually done in schools, but could be done in work or personally. This fundraiser focusses on wearing green for a day whilst donating money to the MHF to help combat loneliness and other mental health struggles. The colour green is chosen as the green ribbon is the global symbol for mental health awareness. This campaign is not only a great way to raise money for a good cause, but also helps to breakdown the stigma that mental health is something to be embarrassed about.
80 Miles in May
Finally, the MHF have a campaign called the “80 Miles in May Challenge.” This is another fundraising event that you can take part in and run, walk, or jog 80 miles in May to help spread awareness. It is free to take part in and you will receive a free water bottle to keep you hydrated throughout. Not only will you be spreading awareness, but you will be looking after your own mental and physical health. And who knows, you may even discover that you enjoy the challenge and continue it after May! The MHF recommend setting your fundraiser target to £150, joining their Facebook group, and using the hashtag #80MilesinMay on your social media posts.
I’m feeling lonely, what should I do?
Loneliness can feel horrible and make you feel worthless. It can also impact your confidence and self image. But, there are many things you can do to improve your mental health along with the feeling of loneliness. Below are a few suggestions and resources:
- Talk to someone. It may seem like a silly suggestion, however, reaching out to someone whether it be a friend, family member, or a helpline and opening up about how you are feeling is the best thing you can do, even if it is just a first step. If you are looking for a helpline, the Samaritans are available 24/7, 365 days a year. You can contact them through email: [email protected] and telephone: 116 123 They also have a self-help app.
- Think about life before the loneliness. You may realise that you have stopped meeting up with friends, attending classes, groups, or talking to your family. If you feel that you have isolated yourself, try to start doing the things you used to do. Reach out to a friend or family member and make some plans.
- Exercise. It is incredibly important to keep both your mind and body active to keep it healthy. Exercising can help boost your mood and help you meet new people that could help with your feeling of loneliness.
If your feeling of loneliness heightens or progresses into feelings such as depression or anxiety, contact your GP.
How can I help someone who is lonely?
If you know someone who is lonely, there are a range of things you can do to help them. Below are a few suggestions:
- Talk to them about your concerns. This may help them open up and show them that you are noticing their feelings.
- Communicate with them more. You may feel that being straight to the point with them will do more harm than good. If this is the case, simply try to communicate with them more. This may be through a text, call, or by meeting up with them every so often. This may help improve their feeling of loneliness by showing that you are there for them.
- Join a class or a group together. They may be struggling to communicate with friends or feel like a burden to some people. By exposing them to new people, you may be able to increase their confidence and help put their mind at ease.
Remember, if someone is showing signs that they are a threat to themselves or others, contact an appropriate helpline for guidance e.g., NHS, Police.
Let us know in the comments how you will be participating in Mental Health Awareness Week!Tags: anxiety, depression, loneliness, mentalhealth, mentalhealthawareness, mentalhealthawareness2022, mentalhealthawarenessfoundation, mentalhealthawarenessmonth, mentalhealthawarenessweek, mentalhealthawarenessweek2022