Reflections on Loneliness for Mental Health Awareness Week

11th May 2022

Many people experience loneliness and feelings of isolation, whether they’re alone or around other people. Loneliness is the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week. It is an opportunity to raise awareness of the impact it has on mental health and find better ways of tackling the epidemic.

Our Growing Occupational Health and Wellbeing team is working with NHS Trusts in the region to create a wellness culture for NHS staff, designed to improve mental and physical wellbeing. The pilot initiative recognises the challenges staff have been under during the COVID-19 pandemic, including loneliness. It is focused on creating excellent occupational health and wellbeing services, to allow people to flourish.

For Mental Health Awareness Week, the programme’s Health and Wellbeing Lead, Hannah Greaves, blogs on the theme of loneliness, support available and how initiatives like the Growing OH pilot are working to improve mental health and wellbeing.


The Mental Health Foundation has chosen the theme of loneliness for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which is fitting as many of us experienced feelings of isolation and disconnection from our loved ones during the pandemic. The main aim of the cause is to provide a platform to share conversations around mental health, recognise the things in our daily lives that can affect it, and to offer practical advice and support on how to improve mental health.

“Our connection to other people and our community is fundamental to protecting our mental health so we must find better ways of tackling the epidemic of loneliness,” says Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation.

Research shows that more than 9 million people in the UK say they often, or always, feel lonely at some point in their life. We also know that loneliness remains one of the key indicators of poor psychological wellbeing, therefore it’s important to stay connected to protect our health and feel valued.

Loneliness isn’t always dependent on the number of friends we have, the time spent with others or something that occurs at a certain point in our lives. Loneliness can be associated with the feeling we experience when there is a mismatch between social connections compared to those we need or want. This means it can be different for all of us.

(Source: Mental health-UK)

The British Red Cross has developed a short video that highlights the impact of loneliness and how it can everyone differently. Young Mind has also produced a guide on ‘How to cope with loneliness’ for advice. There are many things we can do to look after our mental health and support ourselves when we are feeling lonely. Sometimes, it can help to find meaningful connections with ourselves, others, and the world around us, to reduce feelings of loneliness.

Maintaining relationships with people you trust is important. Find ways to stay in touch with colleagues, family and friends via telephone, video calls or social media. Whether it’s people you normally see often, connecting with old friends or joining that interest group you’ve always put off doing, now’s a great time to act. Talking about how you’re feeling can help you gain perspective and identify coping mechanisms.

At work, make sure you have regular contact with your manager. Weekly catch-ups are even more important when working remotely. This campaign reinforces the fact that many of us will be experiencing concerns whilst adapting to home and hybrid working.

I think that the Action for Happiness Calendar is a great way to spread positivity and inspire others to do the same.

Our Growing Occupational Health and Wellbeing pilot is working with four NHS Trusts (South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust), to create a wellness culture, which empowers NHS staff to care for their health and wellbeing by offering an improved, more integrated solution.

We work closely with the teams on the ground to roll out the programme. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re introducing some of the Health and Wellbeing Leads, to shine a light on the great work they’re involved in and the support available to NHS staff.

You can read the blogs of NHS Health and Wellbeing Leads, Jill McGee and Jodie Kendall where they introduce themselves, share the responsibilities within the roles and reflect on ways you can improve your wellbeing.


For more information on the topics covered in the blog, and to help you build connections with the people around you, please check out the resources below:

If you are feeling concerned about your wellbeing and need someone to speak to, contact the Samaritans.