Words by Smiley Team
Loneliness affects mental health of millions, yet many feel ashamed to talk about it.
That's why this Mental Health Awareness Week aims to raise awareness and signpost people to support.
In a survey of more than 6,000 people, the Mental Health Foundation found: a quarter of UK adults have felt lonely some, or all of the time, over the previous month; more than one third of UK adults say they would never admit to feeling lonely; and one in four UK adults said feelings of loneliness made them feel worried or anxious.
The survey marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, led and organised by the Foundation across the UK for the last 22 years. Loneliness touched the lives of many of us during the Covid lockdowns, and this year the Foundation is exploring how loneliness affects our mental health. Sharing our experiences helps to start conversations with others and break the stigma associated with loneliness and mental health.
This Mental Health Awareness Week, everyone is invited to share experiences of loneliness using #IveBeenThere.
Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Foundation said: “Our data shows how loneliness is affecting the mental health of millions of people across the UK. We also know the longer we feel lonely, the greater the risk of poor mental health. Loneliness can be toxic and lead to anxiety and depression and is also associated with increased thoughts of suicide.
"Loneliness is a significant public health issue and as a society, we can and must do better to help people who are lonely and prevent mental health problems. An important step is to address stigma and misconceptions about who experiences loneliness so that people don’t feel ashamed about how they feel. But we also need the Government to step up the momentum in tackling loneliness across society.”
This year, the Foundation is calling on the Government to address the chronic underfunding of public health by restoring the Public Health Grant to 2015/16 levels and including commitments on loneliness within its new 10-year Mental Health strategy in particular recognising those groups who are at more risk of loneliness.
UK adults’ different experiences of loneliness are examined in the Mental Health Foundation’s new report All the Lonely People: Exploring the Hidden Realities of Loneliness and Mental Health.
The Foundation is also offering online Help and Advice about how people can cope with and try to ease their loneliness.
GET INVOLVED: Share your experiences and raise awareness of loneliness during this Mental Health Awareness Week by using the hashtag #IveBeenThere.
SUPPORT THE FOUNDATION: There are lots of ways to support the work of the Mental Health Foundation – find out more.
RUN: Fancy fundraising? Run 80 miles in May for the Mental Health Foundation – find out more.