Loneliness affects more people in the UK than you are probably aware of and it has a huge impact on our physical and mental health. Unfortunately, this was made worse during the pandemic when we were in isolation, on lockdown or working from home. Not being able to see our family, friends and work colleagues can take its toll on our mental wellbeing. 

You are probably wondering why we are writing a blog on loneliness. Well, this week 9th-15th May is Mental Health Awareness Week and we are here to play our part in raising awareness of the impact loneliness has on our mental wellbeing. 

Importance of staying connected

It has been documented that people who engage in activities with others tend to live longer and have an improved mood. For this reason alone it’s important that we stay socially connected.

Ways to stay connected

  • Keep in touch via phone, text, email, video calls, even letters.
  • Learn something new. Learning a new technology can help you connect with family and friends or even new people. 
  • Join in with conversations online. You may find groups on social media that are full of like minded people.
  • Blogging will allow you to express yourself and find other people that have the same interests.
  • You don’t need to be tech savvy to stay in touch with others, knock on your neighbour’s door to check in and say hello.
  • Join a club, whether it’s a book club or walking group. There are plenty of ways to stay connected offline too.

Loneliness at work

For many of us, work is a major part of our lives and a way we stay connected to others. Having a fulfilling job can be half the battle when it comes to our mental health. Knowing there’s a purpose to what we are doing and also enjoying what we do. 

However, sometimes it’s not that simple. When Covid hit, many were sent to work from home. Leaving large open plan offices empty, the buzz and atmosphere completely gone. Work is a place where many would see friends and colleagues. We went from seeing multiple people a day to sitting at home alone (or surrounded by children that needed homeschooling). Even if other members of the family were at home, people could still feel lonely even when surrounded by loved ones. Many experienced this.

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Supporting the Citizen team

To combat loneliness within the Citizen team we made sure that everyone was up and running with Slack and Google Meets. This way we could stay in touch while we were apart. Regular team meetings were put in place and are still in place. We now work a more flexible schedule, with people choosing to either work from the office or at home. However, we still stay connected through various means of communication and all get together, whether in the office or over video call for our weekly check-in.

Other ways we stayed connected; 

  • Online learning and training about mental wellbeing
  • ‘Pub’ quizzes 
  • Regular catch up meetings
  • Gifts sent out to staff; Easter Eggs, grow your own cactus packs

The team is also supported with a health package as part of their employment plus we have a dedicated Mental Health First Aider who is there for anyone when they need.

Other ways to support mental health at work

Mental health is the way we think and feel and our ability to deal with ups and downs, it is something we all have. We have good and bad days. Sometimes, work can get on top of us and cause stress, fear or anxiety. 

Being aware of changes in your own or other’s mental health can play a critical part in supporting or making improvements. 

Mental health problems can have different signs:

  • At work, we might notice that we are more tired than usual
  • Might make uncharacteristic mistakes
  • Find it hard to stay motivated
  • Timekeeping might slip
  • May be short tempered
  • Look or feel very tired or drained
  • Isolate ourselves or avoid colleagues
  • We might procrastinate more 
  • Or we might speed up or become chaotic

Useful Resources

For more information on supporting mental health at work visit The Mental Health Foundation – mentalhealth.org.uk.

How to support mental health at work

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-support-mental-health-work

How to look after your own mental health

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-mental-health

How to manage and reduce stress

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-manage-and-reduce-stress

Samaritans Helpline

116 123 

Whatever you’re going through, you can call any time, from any phone for FREE.

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