Mental Health Awareness Week

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Loneliness: #IveBeenThere

This week (9th – 15th May) is Mental Health Awareness Week, led by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) in Scotland and across the UK for the last 22 years.

The annual event offers people the opportunity to talk about all aspects of mental health, with a focus on providing help and advice and achieving good mental wellbeing.

This year’s theme is Loneliness – and raising awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental health and the practical steps we can take to address it.

 

Reported feelings of loneliness unfortunately increased during the lockdowns of the past years, as countries responded to the COVID pandemic.

According to new research released by MHF this week, high rates of loneliness are impacting the mental health of people in Scotland – but many feel ashamed or unable to talk about it.

One in four adults feel lonely some or all of the time.

There’s no single cause and there’s no one solution – after all, we’re all different. But the longer we feel lonely, the more we are at risk of mental health problems – and some people are at higher risk of feeling lonely than others.

This week is the time to talk openly about this, break the stigma and seek support.

When adults in Scotland were asked about what could help tackle loneliness more than half of respondents (56%) said making it easier for people to find groups, clubs, or places where they can meet others in person.

More than four in ten (46%) said new or improved community-based clubs and activities in the local area where people can meet in person would help.

Many organisations here in Angus are putting on events this week to promote the support they can offer year round – from coffee mornings to befriending to group exercise to specialist health services. A list of these has been put together on Angus Council’s website here.

But addressing issues of loneliness is also something that this Scottish Government is working on at a national level.

In the last Parliament, the SNP government introduced Scotland’s first national strategy to tackle social isolation and loneliness and build stronger social connections – A Connected Scotland. 

The Scottish Government is now building on this with a £10 million commitment to support a new five-year social isolation and loneliness plan, and a Communities Mental Health & Wellbeing Fund that has supported nearly 2000 local projects across the country in its first year.

This is a government determined to ensuring better mental health and increased wellbeing for people in Angus and across Scotland – and tackling loneliness is an important part of that.

But on an individual and community level, let’s take the opportunity of this awareness-raising week to come together and build meaningful connections with friends, family, colleagues and neighbours.