Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust marks Mental Health Awareness Week
This week Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) are raising awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental wellbeing and the practical steps we can take to address it.
This year’s annual event theme is loneliness and how we can tackle it. Long-term loneliness is closely linked to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety and this week EPUT is holding a few events to help staff, members of the public and service users focus on their wellbeing.
On Monday 9 May, EPUT held a social media takeover where we shared advice and tips on how to reduce loneliness in our communities.
On Thursday 12 May, from 12 noon to 12.45pm, we will be hosting a presentation from the Mental Health Foundation, which is open to the public and our service users. The presentation will discuss loneliness, how it affects us and what we can all do to reduce it. You can view the recording here.
On Friday 13 May, from 12.30pm to 1.30pm, staff and members of the public can join us to hear from local initiatives aiming to reduce loneliness. We will be joined by representatives from organisations including Open Arts and Trust Links. The event is open to the public and our service users. You can view the recording here..
Below is some practical advice and tips from Every Mind Matters on how to help yourself or others if you or they are feeling lonely. You can also contact one of the helplines listed on the NHS website in the support section.
- Keep in touch with those around you
Talk to friends and family. Sometimes a friendly chat can make a big difference, whether someone is around the corner or further away.
Whether you choose to meet up in person, or chat on the phone, via video calls or on social media, all contact can help remind you that you are not alone.
Make sure to check in regularly – most of us love hearing from people we have lost contact with. Creating a routine of checking in with others and being more sociable can be good, as it can make it easier to reach out at the time you feel lonely.
Messaging old friends or colleagues, or setting up a group chat on a messaging app like WhatsApp or Messenger may help them and you feel more connected.
- Join a group
Find a group with a shared interest. Being part of an offline or online group or club is a great way to make connections and meet people. Think about activities that you would like to try out and look for groups centred around these.
The people around you may also be able to introduce you to a group they belong to. This could be anything, from gaming and singing to cooking or sport.
Also remember to be welcoming to newcomers and seek to involve others in the conversation, especially those who may be lacking confidence.
- Do things you enjoy
Filling your time doing more things you like can stop you from focusing on feelings of loneliness and is good for your wellbeing.
Spending time outdoors in green space, doing exercise and listening to podcasts and radio shows are just some of the ways to boost your mood and occupy your mind.
- Share your feelings – but do not compare
Being able to talk about how you feel with others can help with loneliness, and hearing a familiar voice or seeing a friendly face makes us feel less isolated.
However, try not to compare yourself with others. Remember that many people may only share the good things happening to them on social media, so comparing can make you feel lonelier.
Plus, we can never be sure of what someone else is going through.
- Help someone else feel connected
Reach out to others – think about people you know who might be feeling lonely and make an effort to connect with them.
Remember that feeling lonely for a long time can make it harder for people to make new connections. It may be difficult for people experiencing loneliness to respond to your friendly contact at first, so be patient and kind.
Try to keep in touch with those around you too. If you pass neighbours or acquaintances on the street, take the time to smile, wave and chat. You could offer to swap phone numbers or create a local group chat to stay connected.
Think about making time to volunteer – it's a great way to meet people and connect, and seeing the benefits of your actions can really help to boost your mental wellbeing.