Tackling loneliness this Mental Health Awareness Week

6th May 2022  |  By: Lauren Garland

Mental Health Awareness Week, taking place 9–15 May this year, has the theme of ‘loneliness’. 

Loneliness affects millions of people and drives poor mental health. Research published by the Mental Health Foundation found that loneliness has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, with young people being the most affected group – 44% of survey respondents aged 18-24 said they had felt lonely during lockdown.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, the Anna Freud Centre will be looking at how we can tackle feelings of loneliness through self-care. The Centre’s self-care resource, co-produced with young people, presents over 90 self-care strategies that young people said help support them to look after their mental health. We will be shining a light on six of these: 

  • being kind to yourself
  • spending time with supportive people
  • being outside
  • online chat or peer support groups
  • volunteering and taking care of others
  • text message support

To mark the week, the Centre’s Mentally Healthy Schools team has also produced a free toolkit that highlights the theme of loneliness, containing resources for primary schools, secondary schools and FE colleges.

Jaime Smith, Director of the Anna Freud Centre’s Schools Division, says: “We can all feel lonely at times. Feelings of loneliness can be hard and can affect your mental health and wellbeing, particularly if they carry on for a long time, but there are ways to lessen these feelings. That’s why we are pleased to share this new toolkit, providing practical guidance for schools and colleges to address loneliness in their settings, and a wealth of self-care strategies. 

“It’s important that young people take time to look after themselves, for example by being kind to themselves and making time for the things they enjoy. For anyone who is struggling, we would encourage you to reach out to someone you trust, such as a friend, family member, teacher or a mental health professional. Sometimes, just telling another person how you’re feeling can make a big difference.” 

The Anna Freud Centre is also joining forces with DrumathonLIVE during Mental Health Awareness Week. Now in its third year, DrumathonLIVE was created by UK musicians Errol Kennedy and Bev Sage in 2020. The event starts on Saturday 14 May and sees seven days of non-stop drumming from some of the world’s best musicians, all livestreamed to raise funds for children’s charities in the UK: the Anna Freud Centre, Child Bereavement UK and Variety. 

In the lead up to the DrumathonLIVE event, the Centre has created assembly packs to help schools explore how children and young people can use music to support their mental health. The ‘Music for self-care’ resources are suitable for both primary and secondary pupils and have been developed in collaboration with teachers and mental health professionals. 

Also during Mental Health Awareness Week, the Centre will be hosting the next Transformation Seminar. On 12 May, Professor Danny Dorling will be exploring the question: “when will life return to normal after the pandemic?”

Download the Mental Health Awareness Week toolkit of resources from Mentally Healthy Schools. Mentally Healthy Schools is a free website for UK primary and secondary schools and FE settings, offering staff information, advice and practical resources to better understand and promote pupils’ mental health and wellbeing.

Download the Anna Freud Centre’s ‘Music for self-care’ resources.

Find out more about how you can support us through DrumathonLIVE.

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