As we head into national Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May 2022), we're reiterating all the ways we can focus on improving mental health and supporting each other.

This year’s campaign explores the impact of loneliness and how we can tackle it, with research showing an increase in people suffering from feelings of loneliness and its consequences.

Inspiring people to ‘lift someone out of loneliness’ as part of the Better Health Every Mind Matters campaign, NAViGO are encouraging everyone to make a small act of kindness to help others and themselves to feel less lonely.

Simon Beeton, NAViGO Chief Executive,  explains: “It’s important that we reduce the stigma of loneliness. Feeling lonely is something all of us can experience at any point in our lives but it can have a big impact on our mental health and wellbeing.

“It can be really difficult to admit we feel lonely. But there are lots of simple actions that you can do to help others who may be feeling lonely and in turn often help yourself too, including giving a friend a call, inviting someone for a walk and reaching out to a neighbour.

“We’re not saying that is going to solve all mental health issues, but it can play a really important role in improving people’s day-to-day wellbeing, connecting communities and providing individuals with opportunities to talk.”

How to help someone who's lonely

The smallest actions can make a big difference, and recommendations to reach out to one another can include:

  • Asking ‘how are you?’ or ‘Fancy a chat?’. Three little words can really help

  • Inviting someone for a cuppa
  • Shall we have a walk? Walking and talking outside in nature can also reduce feelings of tiredness or sadness too
  • Checking in with a family member, friend or neighbour can help them feel less lonely and it could lift you up too.

Long-term loneliness can have an impact on anxiety and depression, but the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, financial struggles and becoming a new parent, as well as grief and changes in family dynamics, can also leave people feeling isolated and alone at certain times.

And while the impact of loneliness has long since been known to affect older generations, recent research shows that people aged between 18 and 24-years-old are at a high risk of feeling lonely compared to other age groups, but are often less likely to seek advice and support.

Courtney Violet, a Young Adult Peer Coach at NAViGO, said: “Discovering who you are, leaving home, social media, peer pressure, ever-changing social networks over the last few years – all of this can contribute to feelings of loneliness.

“While young people may be confident in helping others, they can often be reluctant to seek support for themselves. But it’s okay to feel lonely sometimes.”

We have a range of services and activities in place to support anyone who is feeling isolated and struggling with their mental health including a Safespace crisis café, LGBT inclusion groups, employment advice, a dedicated perinatal team, carer assistance, social activities and a range of volunteering opportunities.

We will also be using Mental Health Awareness Week to introduce chat benches, as well as talking tables encouraging social interaction.

While there are things we can do to support our own health and wellbeing, we're keen to stress that we offer a variety of free services providing professional advice, guidance and therapy.