It's Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) and Warwickshire County Council is shining a spotlight on the impact loneliness can have on our mental health and the support available locally.
This week (9-15 May) is Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) and Warwickshire County Council is encouraging everyone to consider the importance of protecting their mental health, and to think about the part they can play in helping to tackle loneliness.
A recent survey of 6,000 UK adults carried out by the Mental Health Foundation, the charity behind the campaign, found that 1 in 4 people felt lonely some or all of the time. Despite loneliness being experienced by so many, the stigma that exists can often prevent people from acknowledging they feel this way, both to themselves and to others. Loneliness isn’t a mental health problem; it can be completely normal to feel lonely from time to time. However, research shows that loneliness is associated with poor physical and mental health.
Warwickshire County Council portfolio holder for Adult Social Care and Health, Cllr Margaret Bell said: “We know that loneliness is something that can affect anyone, at any time and that it can feel different for everyone. You can be just as lonely surrounded by family and friends as much as someone who has lost a family member, partner or friend.
“One thing that is evident is that loneliness can have a serious impact on mental health. That’s why we are using this week to highlight the mental health and wellbeing support services available throughout Warwickshire so people know where to go when they need them.
“We want to make sure that no one ever feels truly alone. This is a reminder to everyone that there is always someone there to listen or to offer support, whoever and wherever you are.”
Young people across Warwickshire aged 11-25 years can access Kooth, a free and anonymous digital counselling and support service. The service has qualified counsellors and emotional wellbeing practitioners available for one-to-one instant text-based chats or bookable sessions, as well as moderated discussion forums and self-help content. Support is available for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities through Warwickshire’s Local Offer.
People aged 16 or over living in Warwickshire or registered with a Warwickshire-based GP, can seek low-level and early support through the Wellbeing for Warwickshire service. It provides an accessible, single point of access 24/7 via a dedicated phone number and website. People will receive tailored advice and signposting to support based on their individual needs. Call 0800 616 171 or visit the Wellbeing for Warwickshire website to find out more about the support options available.
Last year the Council funded 36 different projects across Warwickshire through the COVID-19 Mental Wellbeing and Resilience Fund that offer wide-reaching benefits to people with a mental health diagnosis, those who may be struggling to cope or anyone interested in doing more to support their wellbeing. They include a Long Covid Support Group, a memories club to support those suffering with loneliness, depression and dementia and a multimedia van delivering creative workshops across Warwickshire. Find out more about the COVID-19 Resilience Fund projects in your local area.
To coincide with the end of MHAW, Coventry and Warwickshire’s Wellbeing for Life initiative will be holding a Wellbeing Festival bringing together over 30 local organisations and charities to showcase the breadth of support available in the area to support wellbeing. Everyone is welcome and invited along to the Wellbeing Festival on Saturday 14 May at the Pump Room Gardens, Leamington Spa, where they will be able to pick up lots of ideas and advice to help them support their own and others’ physical and mental wellbeing. Visit the Wellbeing for Life website for more details.
During the week, Arty Folks will be running two free ‘lunch and learn’ workshops (11 and 12 May) providing creative opportunities to connect with like-minded people, with sessions on creative journaling and tin art. Throughout May they also have a number of free workshops on offer as part of the Art for Wellbeing Warwickshire programme commissioned by the County Council that aims to support adults with mild to moderate mental health needs. Visit the Arty Folks website for further information.
Warwickshire Wildlife Trust will be providing the opportunity to link an interest in nature with meeting new people with various events happening throughout the week, including a conservation taster session and a dawn chorus walk.
To follow on from MHAW, next week the Council will be sharing more specific advice and ideas to help combat loneliness.
Cllr Bell added: “We are committed to helping people to live happier, healthier lives and encouraging people to look after their mental health is key to this. By shining a spotlight on the challenges people face, such as loneliness, we hope that this will encourage more people to have open and honest conversations about how they are feeling and help to remind people that if they reach out there is always someone there who will listen.”
Further support for anyone affected by mental health:
Dear Life has been created by local health and social care professionals across Coventry and Warwickshire. This provides a range of support and signposting to vital services for people who don’t know where to turn for help to address complicated and negative thoughts and feelings.
For people who can’t access resources online, there is help available to you. Call the free NHS Mental Health Access Hubs on 08081 966 798 for mental health services in Coventry and Warwickshire, available 24/7 offering clinical triage and helping those in urgent need of care. Press 1 for adult mental health and Press 2 for the children and young people's mental health service.
Anyone struggling to cope can call Samaritans for free at any time, from any phone on 116 123.
If you have seriously harmed yourself, call 999 or ask someone to call 999 for you.