Monday 9th to Sunday 15th May marks Mental Health Awareness Week, with this year’s theme being ‘loneliness’.
Unfortunately, millions of people experience loneliness in the UK every year and it is a significant contributing factor to poor mental health. Unsurprisingly, loneliness leads to poor Social Wellness, which is of course one of the core elements of our 8Wise ™️ approach. You cannot experience overall wellbeing if you don’t have good Social Wellness, which is why its so important to look after it.
So how can we define loneliness?
There is a difference between being alone, and being lonely. One good description of loneliness is: “the feeling we get when our need for rewarding social contact and relationships is not met.” Loneliness can increase the risk of a number of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep problems, and increased stress.
What causes it?
It has lots of different causes, and these causes aren’t the same for everyone. Sometimes, we can’t even pinpoint what is making us feel lonely. However, there are some common scenarios that cause loneliness including:
– a relationship break down
– changing jobs
– starting university
Some times of the year can make people feel lonely too, like Christmas or birthdays.
Research also suggests that those who live in certain circumstances, or are part of a particular demographic, are more vulnerable to loneliness: Such as:
– having no friends or family
– being estranged from family
– are a single parent
– are a minority and live somewhere without others from a similar background
– have a disability
– have health or mental health problems
– experienced stigma due to gender, race, or sexual orientation
– experienced abuse
Recent research also suggests that young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are the most lonely age group. This could be due to the pandemic and the long periods where they were unable to see school friends, university friends, or colleagues.
How can you deal with loneliness and improve your Social Wellness?
If you are feeling lonely, there are a few things that you can do to boost your Social Wellness, and improve these feelings.
- Join a class or club – you’re likely to meet others who have similar interests to you.
- Volunteer for a cause that resonates with you. This will also give you more purpose and meaning.
- Get in touch with an old friend or acquittance
- Practice self care
If you are struggling with feelings of loneliness, be sure to reach out to a mental health professional.
For information about our mental health services and how you can boost your Social Wellness, visit daltonwise.co.uk