Mental Health Awareness
Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May 2022), with a focus on loneliness
The Mental Health Foundation's Mental Health Awareness Week in 2022 is raising awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental health and the practical steps we can take to address it. Mental health issues can affect anyone. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. So what can you do?
Human beings are naturally social, so feeling lonely isn’t good for us. It is definitely worth noting, however, that feeling lonely is not the same as being alone. You can spend time alone but not be lonely.
Many of us may have felt lonely at some stage, disconnected from others. When you are young especially, it can take time to work out who you are as an individual and what your passions are. What you would like to spend more time doing? Do you want to feel more connected with friends or family? Reach out and arrange to do something with them. Have you considered sharing your skills and time with others? Volunteering or joining a group is a fantastic way to make new friends. Look out for events in your local community. If you have a passion for something – football, swimming, walking, reading – why not join a local club to meet like-minded people. Getting out into the fresh air, even for a short daily walk, has positive mental and physical benefits.
Social media can help us catch up with friends, make new friends and meet people with similar interests, but can also make us feel excluded. Take time out from your social media - see friends and family in person.
The pandemic exacerbated loneliness for some individuals who were unable to see people physically and some may still find it problematic to interact with others or meet more people. If you know someone who is feeling lonely, reach out and see how you can help. A smile and a 'Hello' to a neighbour can make a difference. Around school, if you notice someone sitting on their own at break or lunchtime, why not say hello and ask if they would like some company.
Did you know that Comic Relief recently released findings from a survey of 2,022 parents with children aged 16 and under which found that:
- almost 64% of children in the UK rarely or never speak to their parents about their mental health;
- 28% of parents surveyed said they don’t know how to start a conversation with their child about their child’s mental health;
- and 34% said they wouldn’t know what to do or where to turn for advice if their child was struggling.
How could you instigate a conversation with your young person about how they are feeling? The Young Minds website contains a wealth of ideas and advice on a huge range of topics, whether you are a parent/carer or a young person. Have a look at their page on how to talk with your child about mental health, which also includes lots of ideas for conversation starters, as well as recognising that it is not always the time to talk right now and how to respond if your child tells you that they are struggling.
If you know someone who is struggling, perhaps if you are a parent you could leave a post-it note for your child or if you're a young person, you could post on social media, with words such as:
- Even if I don't understand, know that I want to.
- I love you, nothing can ever change that.
- We're going to get through this together.
- You can talk to me, I'm here for you.
As with all mental health areas, finding someone to talk with is essential. You are not alone. We ALL face challenges at different points in our lives, but there are organisations that can support us.
Pupils can talk to their tutor or with a member of the Pastoral team if they feel they need support.