This week is Mental Health Awareness week and it has got me thinking about the connection between mental health and loneliness. For me, I know that being busy contributes to me having positive mental health and that is partly why I started this scheme, because I needed the quiet times to be occupied. It’s strange really because at the time I had a lot of purpose in my life – a new baby, a new qualification (I had just qualified as a Social Worker) yet all this wasn’t enough – there was too much thinking time and I knew it must be filled. I can lie in bed all day watching telly and be completely and utterly fulfilled but if that is all I’m doing all day, every day then my mental health will suffer. I will get down, I will dwell, mope around and the glass will most certainly be half empty.
Loneliness and isolation can also affect my mental health and I now know that I need to be around people. I do like my own company and will happily go to the cinema on my own but as I have got older, I have realized that I need to spend a segment of each day interacting with others in order for me to feel happy and fulfilled. This might be five minutes on the phone or a quick chat with a neighbour; it doesn’t need to be particularly meaningful but it does ‘lift’ my mood.
I wonder about people in society that are socially isolated and experiencing loneliness. How must their mental health be? I can only see that loneliness and poor mental health are inextricably linked and that they flow through each other colliding and intercepting.
I hate the thought of people feeling alone; that they have spent the whole day by themselves and will go to sleep by themselves then do it all again the next day. I don’t know what the answer is and I don’t think it is restricted to the elderly.
Do you have any ideas about what could help? Share them! Maybe we could give them a go, it’s amazing what you can achieve from a laptop and some perseverance.