Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 - Combatting Loneliness

Started by the Mental Health Foundation in 2001, Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event encouraging people from all across the UK to focus on their mental health. The theme this year is loneliness. Loneliness affects many of us on a daily basis and has had a huge impact on our physical and mental health during the pandemic.

If you’re feeling lonely, you’re not alone. Many students develop feelings of loneliness during their time at university but there are things you can do to alleviate these feelings and there are Support Services that can help.

Think about what is making you lonely

People feel lonely for many different reasons, the most common is that they don’t see or talk to anyone very often or even though there are plenty of people about they don’t feel involved, understood or cared for. When you understand what might be making you feel lonely, you can be more equipped to take positive steps to feeling better.

Make new connections

Think of something that you are interested in and consider joining a clubsociety or group; this can be a great way of getting to know likeminded people. Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and can help counteract the effects of stress and anxiety. 

It might seem counterintuitive but if you are struggling yourself, sometimes offering help to others who are feeling lonely can make you feel less lonely yourself. Make a phone call, send a text, or comment on someone's social media posts.

Talk to someone about your feelings

You may have already made some friends at university but perhaps you still feel as though you are not a part of it. If you’re feeling isolated from your peers talk to a friend or family member, they will be a source of comfort and may be able to give you advice to help you overcome these feelings.

Good friendships take time

For some students, meeting people is easy and comes naturally. For others, it can be terrifying and difficult. You’ve probably heard people say that university friends are friends for life. Whilst this is often the case, it doesn’t mean that these are friends that they made instantly. Making friends is an ongoing process. You don't need to rush into anything, if at first you don't succeed, hang in there and keep trying.

Be careful when comparing yourself to others

When we constantly compare ourselves to others, we waste precious energy focusing on other peoples’ lives rather than our own. It may not feel like it, but hundreds of fellow students are in your position as well - recognise that these thoughts and feelings are common and normal. It is important to remember that for most students university is hard.

Ask yourself how you’re feeling

Feeling lonely can be stressful and can have a big impact on your general wellbeing which might make it even harder to make positive steps to feeling better. Sleep deprivation and unhealthy eating can also have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing so it’s important to look after yourself and seek help if this is affecting you.

Ask for help

Loneliness is just like any other emotion – it will come and go and there are things you can do to manage these feelings. Reach out for help if you need it and if it makes you feel good, be there for someone else in turn once you are feeling more resilient. Book an appointment with the Wellbeing Service to speak to someone about how you’ve been feeling and get further guidance.

Chance to Chat

Our Support Services are dedicated to making sure that every student gets the support they need. Within theWellbeing Service, you have the opportunity to join Chance to Chat. Chance to Chat is a number of small 'chat' groups of students who get together in a neutral, calm and relaxed setting. These groups are led by a trained specialist mentor who can get the conversations started and provide friendly support throughout. The groups have regular meet-ups to cement new relationships and hopefully nurture them into friendships. 

External Resources

Mind - Loneliness

Student Minds - Resources

Students Against Depression

Valley Steps – Free Mindfulness and Wellbeing Courses

#unilife #Wellbeing