Housing First Dual Diagnosis Team Blog: Mental Health Awareness Week & Loneliness | News and Events

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Housing First Dual Diagnosis Team Blog: Mental Health Awareness Week & Loneliness

Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event creating an opportunity to focus on achieving good mental health.

It runs from Monday 9 May until Sunday 15 May 2022 and this year’s theme will explore the experience of loneliness, its effect on our mental health and how we can all play a part in reducing loneliness in our communities.

Loneliness is affecting more of us in the UK and has had a huge impact on our physical and mental health during the pandemic.

Our connection to other people and our community is fundamental to protecting our mental health.

Everyone's experience of loneliness will be different, and loneliness is not always the same as being alone.

You may choose to be alone and live happily without much contact with other people, while others may find this a lonely experience.

 Or you may have lots of social contact and still feel lonely – especially if you don't feel understood or cared for by the people around you.



What causes loneliness?

For some people, certain life events may mean they feel lonely, such as:

  • experiencing a bereavement
  • going through a relationship break-up
  • retiring and losing the social contact you had at work
  • changing jobs and feeling isolated from your co-workers
  • starting at university
  • moving to a new area or country without family, friends, or community networks.
  • feeling lonely at certain times of the year, such as around Christmas.


Some research suggests that people who live in certain circumstances, or belong to particular groups, are more vulnerable to loneliness. For example, if you:

  • have no friends or family
  • are estranged from your family
  • are a single parent or care for someone
  • belong to minority groups and live in an area without others from a similar background
  • are excluded from social activities due to mobility problems or a shortage of money
  • experience discrimination and stigma because of a disability or long-term health problem, including mental health problems
  • experience discrimination and stigma because of your gender, race, or sexual orientation
  • have experienced sexual or physical abuse – you may find it harder to form close relationships with other people.


Loneliness can mean different things to different people.

Five things’ people say loneliness is:

  • Having nobody to talk to
  • Feeling disconnected to the world
  • Feeling left out
  • Sadness
  • Not feeling understood.



What are the effects of loneliness?

Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to health.

Lack of social connections can increase the likelihood of early death by 26%. That risk is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day and is higher than that caused by obesity and physical inactivity.


Feeling lonely is not in itself a mental health problem, but the two are strongly linked. Having a mental health problem can increase your chance of feeling lonely.

Feeling lonely can also have a negative impact on your mental health, especially if these feelings have lasted a long time. Some research suggests that loneliness is associated with an increased risk of certain mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep problems and increased stress.


How can I manage loneliness?

Different things work for different people at different times. Only try what you feel comfortable with and try not to put too much pressure on yourself. If something isn't working for you (or doesn't feel possible just now), you can try something else, or come back to it another time.





  • try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact Samaritans, call: 116 123 or email: jo@samaritans.org if you need someone to talk to
  • consider joining a group or class that focuses on something you enjoy; you could ask to go along and just watch first if you are feeling nervous
  • consider visiting places where you can just be around other people – for example, a park, the cinema, or a cafe
  • consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. Find out more about peer support on the Mind website
  • try the 6 ways to feel happier, which are simple lifestyle changes to help you feel more in control and able to cope
  • find out how to raise your self-esteem
  • listen to free mental wellbeing audio guides




  • don’t try to do everything at once - set small targets that you can easily achieve
  • don’t focus on the things you cannot change – focus your time and energy into helping yourself feel better
  • don’t try not to compare yourself to others - on social media you usually only see things people want to share
  • try not to tell yourself that you are alone – many people feel lonely at some point in their life and support is available
  • try not to use alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, or drugs to relieve loneliness - these can all contribute to poor mental health




Useful contacts

Local Minds offer face-to-face services across England and Wales. These services include talking therapies, peer support and advocacy.

Mind's helplines provide information and support by phone and email.

Infoline: 0300 123 3393

Email: info@mind.org.uk

Side by Side is a supportive online community providing a safe place to listen, share and to be heard.









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