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Why Loneliness is the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

Information from Mental Health Foundation:

Mental Health Foundation CEO Mark Rowland shares his own experience of loneliness, explains the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week (9 to 15 May 2022), and invites you to share your stories, break the stigma and be part of the movement to tackle loneliness.

Loneliness is something that we all feel at times but when it is chronic or long-term it can have serious effects on our mental health. We all have a part to play in reducing loneliness.

Loneliness is a normal part of life, with most of us feeling lonely at some point and experiencing how it can gnaw away at our sense of self-worth and belonging.

Loneliness is not about the number of friends we have, the time we spend on our own, or something that happens when we reach a certain age. Loneliness is the feeling we experience when there is a mismatch between the social connections we have and those that we need or want. That means it can be different for all of us.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, we want to give loneliness the attention that it deserves, bringing it out from the shadows where it so often is hidden. We will release research to show the embedded misunderstanding and prejudice around loneliness, and why the length of time we experience loneliness is so vital to its effect on our mental health. We will explore the shame we often feel and how many of us still struggle to talk about loneliness and how it is affecting our mental health.

Loneliness and mental health

Loneliness is a significant public health issue. It remains one of the key indicators of poor mental health, our own reports have shown that being connected to other people in a way that helps us feel valued is absolutely fundamental to protecting our mental health. Long-term feelings of loneliness have also been shown to be associated with higher rates of mortality and poorer physical health outcomes.

This was shown most clearly in the well-known Harvard Study, which since 1938 has tracked 268 Harvard undergraduates and their children to explore what makes us who we are, from physical and psychological traits to social life and IQ, to how we flourish. It found that the warmth of our relationships throughout life had the greatest impact on our life satisfaction and health.

Help us bring loneliness into the light

There is so much you can do during the week. Take the chance to get in touch with a friend or neighbour you haven’t spoken with in a while. Have a look at and share our podcasts, animation, personal stories, social posts, research, policy asks, and tips that we’ll be publishing in the week.

Most of all, we want to hear your stories of loneliness. Sharing our own stories helps reduce the stigma around loneliness and challenge the stereotypes about who experiences loneliness and how it affects us.

Get involved in the largest collective sharing of loneliness experiences and together let’s shatter the stigma around loneliness. Share your experiences and send a powerful message to others, using the hashtag #IveBeenThere and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.

Read more about why loneliness is the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week here