It's mental health awareness week this week (9-15 May). This is a week that the charity The Mental Health Foundation uses to raise awareness of a different mental health experience each year. This year the focus is on loneliness.
Along with many other emotional and mental health struggles, it's a subject that people might find difficult to talk about. It's also quite hard to define, as it can be one of those feelings that comes and goes and feels hard to get your head around.
It's also an experience that we can probably all relate to, in some way or other. Starting a new school or club, job, or the ebb and flow of friendships can all contribute to feeling lonely. And we can probably all remember an occasion when we've been surrounded by people and yet still feel a bit disconnected or like we're on our own.
As part of their awareness week the Mental Health Foundation has released some brilliant resources for young people, teachers and parents. If you've got some time why not have a look and see what you can find that might help you, or someone you know. They help explain what loneliness is and how to recognise that you feel lonely (it might be an experience that you don't recognise as loneliness but you're feeling 'something' that you can't put your finger on). Probably more importantly though they give some really good tips on how to make practical decisions that can change your state. They break them down into making connections with yourself, making connections with others, and making connections with the outside world (like being in nature or trying something new).
They're great ideas and I think could be really easy to try. Maybe even if you're not feeling lonely you could give them a go? They can be downloaded here.
Also, have a look at the Phase blog archive which (although we do say so ourselves) has rather a lot of fabulous pieces for perusal. This one written by Sasha is on the face of it about being kind, but there's also a list of suggestions for acts of kindness that would almost certainly help someone feel connected, purposeful and like they were needed.
Finally, if you are a student in school and you think you need a bit more help to try some of these strategies for connecting, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or talk to your pastoral team at school, as we might be able to support you with mentoring, a support group or just a friendly chat and a point in the right direction. We'd love to hear from you.
Never miss a Phase blog post - subscribe here