This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week runs 9 – 15 May and is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. Organised by the Mental Health Foundation, this year will focus on loneliness, the impact it can have on our wellbeing and how we can tackle it, together.
The saying goes – “you don’t have to be alone to be lonely.”
Loneliness, as defined by mental health professionals, is a gap between the level of connectedness that you want and what you have in life. Loneliness is a subjective feeling – and it’s not to be confused with social isolation, which is measured by the number of people you have contact with. Some people can have a lot of contacts and still be lonely, or be perfectly content by themselves.
For many of us living and working in bustling cities, surrounded by people both physically and digitally in an always-on world, it’s not hard to find yourself feeling a little lost and disconnected.
There were signs even before the pandemic, but now loneliness has reached almost epidemic levels with 1 in 14 people over 16 in the UK feeling lonely right now, according to ONS figures.
Loneliness is a significant public health issue. It remains one of the key indicators of poor mental health, with research from the Mental Health Foundation showing that connecting with people is key to making us feel valued, and absolutely fundamental to protecting our mental health.
Long-term feelings of loneliness have also been shown to be associated with higher rates of mortality and poorer physical health outcomes. A 2018 survey by Cigna – a leading healthcare and insurance provider in the US – reported that a lack of social connection is a bigger risk factor than obesity and the equivalent of smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day.
“…embracing community helps us live longer and be happier.”
Harvard Study of Adult Development.
An often-cited Harvard Study, which since 1938 has tracked participants to explore what makes us who we are (from physical and psychological traits to social life and IQ), also found that the warmth of our relationships throughout life had the greatest impact on our life satisfaction and health.
For this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, the Mental Health Foundation will shine a light on loneliness, “bringing it out from the shadows where it so often is hidden,” with new research showing the embedded misunderstanding and prejudice around loneliness, and how the length of time we experience loneliness impacts our mental health. Follow them on social media and with the hashtags #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek #IveBeenThere.
We all have a part to play in reducing loneliness. Use this week to reach out to a friend or neighbour you haven’t spoken with in a while. A good place to start is your community, and in Get Living neighbourhoods, we are making sure to find ways to bring our residents together. Find a club, group or event to join and make that connection.
To get your weekly dose of dopamine, join free weekly workouts in your neighbourhood available exclusively to you and Get Living residents. Find your workout and take a chance to meet your neighbours while keeping fit.
Sharing your own stories of loneliness can encourage others to open up, as well as tackle the stigma around it and challenge stereotypes about who experiences loneliness and how it affects us. That’s why one of this year’s campaign hashtag is #IveBeenThere.
“We can only make progress on loneliness together.”
Mental Health Foundation.
If you’d like to talk to someone about your mental health, do check out our amazing charity partners at MIND who are experts in mental health support. And/or take a screenshot and save these numbers for when you or a friend might need them:
Manchester is known for its close-knit community and to become a part of the story, look no further than New Maker Yards neighbourhood. From weekly workouts exclusively for New Maker Yards residents to space for creatives with a monthly craft workshop, Makers Meet, there are plenty of opportunities to hang around people who share your interests.
COMMUNITY FOOTBALL GAME
Plenty of footy lovers out there, so if you are one of them, get to know your New Maker Yards and Middlewood Locks neighbours every Wednesday over a friendly game 7-a side football.
Dog owner, this one is for you! A pawesome dog club brings together dog owners and their pups over drinks at Seven Bro7hers and it’s a great way to meet your doggie walks companions. Meet-ups happen every 2nd Sunday of the month.
A small book club has grown into a tribe of friends and literature lovers that meets every 2nd Monday of each month. “That book club gifted me three of my now best friends, introduced me to books I never would have read and changed my Monday nights forever,” says Sam, NMY book club host.
Keep up to date with New Maker’s programme and events and save these dates for 2022.
More than 6,000 people now call East Village home. It’s got acres of green spaces, a handy Zone 2 location and independent bars, shops & restaurants… But what makes East Village the East Village is the community. From 7 a-side community football and a paw-ssionate group of dog lovers to monthly meet-ups for local book lovers with Book Club East E20, in every corner of the village, there is an opportunity to make friends with your neighbours.
New parent or a parent to be? Here’s a place to have a laugh about parenting woes over a good coffee. This supporting group meets every Friday morning and gives you a perfect chance to meet fellow village parents and make friends.
EV LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY GROUP
Inspired by real friendships inside the LGBTQ+ community in East Village, this group brings together friends and allies, giving them the opportunity to meet new people and create friendships. Join them in organizing events for the local community or pop to Tina We Salute You for a friendly drink.
If you live in East Village save these dates for 2022 and join your local groups, clubs & events.
After a day of hustle and bustle in the capital, there’s nothing better than to wind down in the comfort of your neighbourhood. But, the big city life can sometimes be lonely as well. Elephant Central neighbourhood offers range of local events and clubs to join and make friends with like-minded people who live just a few steps from you!
EC BOOK CLUB
Elephant Central book lovers club meets every 3rd Monday of the month in the Club Room, Raglan House. Fun quizzes and activities and a free copy of the ‘book of the month’ for you to enjoy, this is your chance to bond with your neighbours over a few pages and plenty of laughs.
Get involved in Elephant Central community and save these dates for 2022.