9th – 15th May is this year’s mental health awareness week and the topic is loneliness.

Many of us have at some point in our lives will have felt lonely, some of us may still be feeling lonely and that’s way it’s good to talk and be connected.

Loneliness is affecting more and more of us in the UK and has had a huge impact on our physical and mental health during the pandemic. Our connection to other people and our community is fundamental to protecting our mental health and we need to find better ways of tackling the epidemic of loneliness. We can all play a part in this.

Sometimes certain life events may mean that you can feel lonely or disconnected from the world, these may include

  • Experiencing a death or loss
  • Going through a relationship break up
  • Retiring and losing the social contact you had at work
  • Changing jobs and feeling isolated from your co-workers
  • Starting at university
  • Financial isolation such as debt, money worries or fears over redundancy
  • Moving to a new area without family, friends or community networks

Loneliness is a real issue

Feeling lonely or isolated can have a negative impact on your mental health – especially if these feelings go on for a long time. So it’s really important that we all work together to help tackle it.

There are lots of groups and projects across Derbyshire that are helping to tackle loneliness and improve social connections. 

Self Help

Talking Therapies – If you are struggling, then it’s always good to talk. Whether that’s with a friend, family member or counsellor. 

The Samaritans are always on hand if you need to talk and they can be contacted on 116 123

Here is a list of things that you could do

  1. Pick up the phone and say hello to someone who you’ve not spoken to for a while and understand what’s going on in their lives.
  2. Pop along to Relate Chesterfield and North Derbyshire, 81, New Square, Chesterfield S40 1AH on Friday 13th May for a free coffee and slice of cake. You could even join in their connectivity art activity and see what services they have to offer or just say hi and have a chat
  3. Join a class – why not consider joining a class and learning something new or taking up a new hobby. There’s a wide range of options available and you’re bound to find one that appeals to you. You might even consider an adult education class.
  4. A change of scenery is a great way to meet new people. Why not try smiling at everyone you pass when out walking in a park or on your ways to the local shops. You could even count how many smiles you receive in return and how they make you feel.
  5. In a previous blog I wrote about the 5 ways of wellbeing, why not check it out and if you want a copy of the wheel to complete then please leave your details in the comments and we will send you one.
  6. Attend Think Fest! Derbyshire’s mental health festival – Saturday 14th May – 10am – 4pm – New Square, Chesterfield Town Centre, S40 1AH. It’s free to attend so just turn up for a full day of live music and entertainment, market stalls filled with local support services ranging from peer support groups, activity groups and charities. All the information in one place for you to learn how to look after your mental health and wellbeing.

Sharon Bull used to be a presenter for Elastic FM and this week she has been sharing her story – A Compassionate Voice.

For thirty years she lived in silence with her mental health issues. She felt isolated and scared. Sharon feared others would treat her differently if they knew about her mental health issues.

Now, working as an inspirational speaker, author, and the creator/facilitator of ‘The Power of YOU & This Is ME workshops, she is determined to get people talking. Her passion is to help others through her lived-in experiences, whilst also encouraging others to do the same.

In 2019, she also registered a charitable organisation called Compassionate Voices CIC. Over the past two years the not-for-profit organisation has been helping women and young girls affected by the pandemic. This has resulted in a growing online community called ‘Compassionate Voices.’

More recently, the charity has also partnered with Dunelm Stores (including Chesterfield) to run safe-space regional hubs.

We will be inviting Sharon to share via a podcast the work that she is involved in.

All of the board and presenters at Elastic FM are volunteers and we have a connection where we all feel safe to share our vulnerabilities and talk about our challenges. If ever you feel lonely then why not ask Alexa to play Elastic FM and listen to the music and conversations so that you feel part of our family and feel connected in a small way to ease the feeling of loneliness.

This article has been brought to you with support from Community Fund