This year, the theme for the week is ‘Loneliness’. Across the country, people will be reflecting on loneliness and how it impacts our mental health. Long-term loneliness is closely linked to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
People who experience loneliness might also feel disempowered, struggle to engage with services and feel that their views are not important. This can significantly affect their mental health. Independent advocacy can help by speaking up for, and standing alongside individuals or groups, and not being influenced by the views of others. Independent advocates can help individuals and groups being supported to develop the skills, confidence and understanding to advocate for themselves.
Citizen advocacy is a type of independent advocacy that can be especially important for people facing barriers to connect to their local community and have their voice heard. Several SIAA members offer this type of advocacy, including Dunfermline Advocacy and Angus Independent Advocacy.
On this Mental Health Awareness Week’s theme, Mark Rowland Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation said:
“We hope this year’s theme of loneliness will strike a chord with many of us who felt lonely and struggled throughout the Covid pandemic.
“Millions of us experience loneliness from time to time. We know that some people are at higher risk of experiencing loneliness and the evidence shows the longer we feel lonely, the more we are at risk of mental health problems.
“Loneliness deserves more attention and we’re calling on everyone who has struggled as a result of being lonely to share their experiences. We must work together – as individuals, as a society and through government policy – to reduce loneliness and prevent mental health problems by investing in welcoming, social spaces and new community initiatives.”
Some of the ways people can participate in Mental Health Awareness Week:
- During Mental Health Awareness Week use the hashtag #IveBeenThere to share experiences of loneliness to support others and give the campaign momentum.
- Sign up to walk, run or job as part of our 80 Miles in May challenge and share your photos using #80MilesinMay and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.
For more information about this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week visit mentalhealth.org.uk/mhaw or join the conversation on social media using #IveBeenThere and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek