This week is currently Mental Health Awareness Week. Mental Health is something which has come to prominence in the last few years and the principles of self-care and looking out for others have become increasingly important, especially when people have been isolated due to a plethora of reasons including Covid lockdowns.
The key theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is that of loneliness. According to the Mental Health Foundation one in four adults feel lonely some of, or all of, the time. This is an important time to check in on those who are important to you. Even people who say that they are feeling “fine” or “okay” can be suffering from mental health issues and need care and support.
Loneliness is something which can create negative health spirals and cause people to become afraid of social situations. This can, in turn, make it more difficult to find the positives in everyday living and one can become victim to a negative thought cycle.
The Mental Health Foundation state that whilst the public understands that there is a link between loneliness and mental health, there is still a significant stigma regarding loneliness. There are certain key groups of people who are more prone to suffer from loneliness and these include:
There are three main types of loneliness: emotional, social or existential. Emotional comes from the loss of a significant other (e.g. partner, parent, close friend). Social comes from the lack of a wide social network which provides a sense of community. Finally existential comes from a disconnected feeling and the feeling that life lacks meaning and purpose.
Loneliness isn’t just something which causes mental health issues, however. It can lead to physical issues which result in increased GP visits, longer stays in hospital, increased likelihood of entering residential care and the increased costs associated with conditions such as depression and diabetes.
If you want to help someone who you are worried could be lonely there are things you can do! These can be as simple as not judging them, listening and showing understanding as well as making groups welcoming to other people.
Therefore, take the opportunity this week to check in on friends, family and loved ones. Loneliness is a horrible cycle that can be broken. We just need those who love us to help break it.