Taking place from 9 to 15 May, the focus this year is on raising awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental health and the practical steps we can take to address it

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Mental Health Awareness Week is hosted annually by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF). This year, Mental Health Awareness Week takes place 9–15 May, and the theme for the event is ‘loneliness’.

According to the MHF’s Mental Health Awareness Week webpage, one in four adults feels lonely some or all of the time, and one in five will hide their loneliness in front of others. It emphasises that being lonely for a long time can lead to a negative spiral; loneliness makes it harder to connect, which leads to people being afraid of social situations, meaning it is harder to find joy in life and escape negative thoughts.

The MHF has provided several resources about coping with loneliness, and a series of personal stories relating people’s individual experiences with it. The Foundation stresses: ‘By coming together, we can tackle loneliness. We can also help influence policy, support each other, and help prevent mental health problems.’

In a podcast appearance, Catherine Seymour, Head of Research at the MHF, commented on the issue: ‘There’s one in 20 people in the UK who say they often or always feel lonely … For them, their lives feel like they’re always locked down …

‘People who say that they often or always lonely have a higher risk of developing certain mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, and being lonely is also associated with increased thoughts about suicide.

‘So it’s certainly something that we need to take very seriously.’

For information, initiatives, and resources related to Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, visit the Mental Health Foundation website.

Furthermore, if you want free, confidential listening support, consider one of the following services:

  • Samaritans—call 116 123, or email jo@samaritans.org
  • Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)—call 0800 585858 or message the CALM webchat service
  • Shout—text ‘Shout’ to 85258.

See also this page for a list of wellbeing resources for UK-based healthcare professionals.

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