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Connect With Others This Mental Health Awareness Week

This week May 9th to May 15th is Mental Health Awareness Week. This year the week will explore loneliness, its experiences and its effect on mental health, while exploring how we can all play a part in reducing loneliness in our communities.

One in four adults feel lonely some or all the time. There is no single cause and there is no one solution, after all we are all different. The longer we feel lonely, the more we are at risk of mental health problems, with one people at higher risk of feeling lonely than others.

This years, Mental Health Awareness Week, is raising awareness of the impact of loneliness on mental health and the practical steps that can be taken to address it.  

Julie Cameron, Associate Director of Mental Health Foundation in Scotland, said: “Our research shows that loneliness is affecting hundreds of thousands of people across Scotland. This is very concerning as long-term loneliness can potentially lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, and it is also associated with increased thoughts of suicide.  Yet so many of us are embarrassed or ashamed to admit when we’re feeling lonely.

“We need to tackle loneliness as a public health issue with actions from governments, communities, and individuals to help prevent mental health problems. We must address the stigma of loneliness and have open conversations to let people know that they’re not alone with their feelings.  Local and national governments can do more to ensure that everyone has access to quality community spaces including green spaces where there is an opportunity for people to connect in a meaningful way.”

In the last two year the number of calls recived by the Samaritans which mention loneliness or isolation have increased by more than a fifth. With surveys showing that far more young people experience feeling lonley compared to over-55s. In Scotland 26% of those polled experienced loneliness or isolation since the beginging of the Covid pandemic.

Samaritains ambassador and TV presenter Scarlett Moffatt, marking the start of Mental Health Awareness Week yesterday said: “Sometimes it can feel like there is a negative stigma around admitting that you’re lonely, but it’s something that most people will have experienced at one point in their life. There is no shame in feeling alone, and it’s okay to talk about it.”

“In the world of social media, it’s not always clear to see when people are feeling sad or lonely. I remember feeling guilt when I felt lonely – because to many people I have no reason to feel alone – but loneliness affects us all.

“The pandemic was particularly tough for a lot of people. I rang Samaritans for support and would urge anyone else struggling to do so too. Talking to someone who didn’t know me, or judge me, really helped when I wanted to talk about how I was feeling.”

NHS Tayside is urging people to connect with others this week, Public Health Consultant Dr Jane Bray said, “Loneliness is something we have all felt at times and this has been particularly difficult for millions of us during the COVID pandemic. We know that loneliness can lead to mental and physical health problems, but it is something that we can all help to change.  

“Please take time to connect with others, share a smile or conversation and improve your own and other people’s wellbeing.”

NHS Tayside will be running training session on mental health for their staff as well as a discussion event on Wednesday 11th May to gather the views and experiences of people who work and volunteer in Tayside mental health services.

The event will be open to the wider workforce, including public, private and third sector employees and volunteers in Tayside. For more information about the event or the training, please contact tay.publicmentalhealthtraining@nhs.scot.

This Friday 13th of May, Radio stations across the UK, including Heartland FM will be taking part in Radio Centre’s Mental Health Minute and broadcasting a one-minute message on the importance of talking about mental health issues, reaching out and listening to each other.

2021’s minutes featured Dame Shirley Bassey, David Beckham, Joanna Lumley and Jamie Oliver to name a few with Royals, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke of Sussex taking part in previous years.  The Mental Health Minute will be broadcast at 10:59am.

Anyone who is struggling with their Mental Health can access a wide range of support on offer.

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