Mental Health Awareness Week 2022- Loneliness
Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 ran from the 9th-15th of May, with the theme for this year being loneliness, but at Clarity, we want to keep the conversation going. Loneliness affects 1.4 million people in Britain, according to Age UK, and this number is expected to increase to around 2 million by 2026.
What is loneliness?
MIND, a mental health charity, describes loneliness as a personal feeling, so everyone experiences it in a different way. It isn’t just about living or spending time alone; it’s about what people get from social interactions and feeling connected and understood. Many people experience loneliness despite having lots of friends and family around them.
Is loneliness a mental health illness?
Loneliness isn’t a mental health problem, but the two are closely linked. Often feelings of loneliness can have a detrimental effect on someone’s mental health. Research shows a link between loneliness and mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep problems and increased stress.
Loneliness in the workforce
According to a recent report, as many as 72% of employees have reported feeling lonely at work at least monthly, and 55% at least weekly. The pandemic has also seen an increase in people working from home, which has brought about a new set of challenges for employers when it comes to their workforce feeling lonely. Steps can be taken by employers and HR Managers to help eradicate feelings of loneliness within their workforce.
- Introduce a mentoring program across the business. Not only can this help create strong relationships, but it can also act as a support network to employees that are working remotely and remind them that they are valued and part of the company.
- Create a culture where people feel comfortable being themselves. In a working environment, it is vital that the culture of the business encourages people to be themselves. Discrimination can lead to individuals feeling isolated, which can have a negative effect across their contribution to the business and can lead to feelings of loneliness.
- Encourage social interaction between employees. There are several ways this can be done, from team days out, to something as simple as having a designated area for employees to sit and each their lunch together. Increasing the amount of time employees interact with each other can prevent loneliness in the workplace.
- Empower your workforce. If an employee feels their contribution to the business is not significant, it can affect their motivation and confidence to do their job. Empowering your employees through recognition and encouragement can be vital in preventing loneliness and isolation.