“Thank you so much. I just feel so much better knowing that you are here and there are other things I can look at as well. I don’t feel on my own anymore. You’ve made me feel normal.”

– A recent HOPELINEUK caller

This week is Loneliness Awareness Week. Running until 19 June, Loneliness Awareness Week is dedicated to addressing the issues surrounding loneliness and how it can affect our mental health.

During these trying times, it is likely that a lot of us will be feeling lonely, and the lockdown has been particularly challenging for those people who have been isolating alone in a single person household, or those who have been shielding from COVID-19 over the past few months.

Our way of life has been temporarily paused. The socialisation that many of us would ordinarily seek out – whether it be meeting friends in the pub; celebrating birthdays and milestones with family; or simply catching up with colleagues over a cup of coffee – has been swapped for social distancing.

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be alone to feel lonely. People in relationships can feel lonely; you can feel lonely in the company of family and friends. It’s also important to recognise that there are different types of loneliness.

Emotional loneliness is felt when somebody you were very close with is no longer with you. Social loneliness is when you feel as though you’re lacking a wider network of friends, family or colleagues. Situational loneliness is feeling lonely at certain times, such as during religious holidays or bank holidays. There is transient loneliness, which comes and goes, then there’s chronic loneliness – when you feel lonely all or most of the time.

Here at PAPYRUS, we understand how feeling lonely can negatively affect our mental health, and the theme of loneliness has been evident through our suicide prevention helpline, HOPELINEUK.

Loneliness and isolation have been issues that callers have raised every single day on HOPELINEUK in recent weeks. Our suicide prevention advisers are hearing about how due to COVID-19, people are struggling with the separation from friends and family; about the loss of a support system; about fears of unemployment, and how spending most of their time alone is negatively affecting them.

In response to the growing number of calls to our helpline about loneliness and isolation, our advisers have been helping people to look at ways in which they can feel more connected to those around them. So whether it be through video calls to friends and family, or engaging with telephone support and reaching out to helplines – there is always someone at the other end of the phone. Our HOPELINEUK team is always here for you, seven days per week, 365 days of the year.

We have also been encouraging people to explore their hobbies and try and reconnect with a skill that has perhaps fallen by the wayside. Or to take a moment in the day for some quiet reflection about what type of support has been helpful to you over the past few months, and what things were less helpful.

As well as offering support about loneliness through HOPELINEUK, our advisers have also had a presence on The Student Room – the UK’s largest online network of students – over the past couple of months. Earlier this week, suicide prevention adviser, Rebecca, took part in The Student Room’s live Q&A panel, addressing the themes of loneliness.

With loneliness being flagged as one of the top concerns for young people on the platform, the panellists answered concerns about living alone; missing school, because it helped with the young person’s mental health and another person commenting that they’ve been lonely for years but the isolation has made it unbearable.

“You’re not alone in feeling alone; it’s such a common and difficult experience,” says Rebecca.

“When we are feeling hungry, it reminds us that we need to eat. When we are feeling lonely, it reminds us that we need to strive for that connection, and work out what kind of connection will help us have those meaningful relationships that we all really want.”

To watch the whole of Rebecca’s hour long Q&A panel with The Student Room, click here.

And remember – you’re never alone. HOPELINEUK is always here for you.

Call: 0800 068 41 41

Text: 07860 039 967

Email: pat@papyrus-uk.org

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