Show loneliness the door this Mental Health Awareness Week

People living in Lancashire and South Cumbria are being asked to tackle their loneliness this Mental Health Awareness Week.

Running from Monday 9 to Sunday 15 May, Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event led by the Mental Health Foundation, offering an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health.

Health bosses and charity leaders are urging people in Lancashire and South Cumbria to address any post-pandemic loneliness they may be feeling and seek the help they need.

Fleur Carney, director of the mental health, learning disabilities and autism programme for Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership, said:

“Many people feel lonely sometimes - particularly following the pandemic when people were isolated from family and friends. If loneliness is affecting your life, we urge you to reach out to one of the many support lines and services available.

“There is a huge amount of local support, opportunities for people to join an activity, become part of a club, share their experience of loneliness, and find company.

“Community and voluntary groups are critical in the support of loneliness and work alongside NHS services to provide an approach to wellbeing that prevents anyone from feeling alone.”

Dr Mark Spencer, of The Mount View Practice in Fleetwood and ambassador of the Healthier Fleetwood initiative, said:

“We encourage everyone, residents, volunteers and professionals, to help where they can. It can be as simple as finding the time to check in on a neighbour, asking a work colleague if they are OK and taking a positive view on life wherever possible. 

The simplest gesture of kindness like a chat over a cup of tea can mean so much and make a real difference to someone's life when they need it most.”

Dr Ben Locke, chief clinical officer of the mental health website Togetherall, which is available to people living in Central Lancashire and on the Fylde Coast free of charge, said:

“Loneliness is a real feeling, regardless of what prompted it, but there are a lot of ways to manage it.

“Our typical go-to move when feeling lonely or bored (or even uncomfortable) is to pick up our phone and scroll. The problem is that not only does this automatic behaviour not fix our lonely experience but what you see suggests everyone else is not lonely and having a better time. To feel less lonely or isolated, we have to challenge ourselves to not do the easy and automatic thing. Instead, set an intention to connect with others or do something that makes us feel better.”

Many organisations are available for residents to pick up the phone and have a chat. A list of these resources can be found here: healthierlsc.co.uk/MentalHealthSupport

Some initiatives to tackle loneliness we have going on in our area include:

Anyone needing urgent mental health support should call the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust Mental Health Crisis Line on 0800 953 0110.