Mental Health Awareness Week: I've been there

This Mental Health Awareness Week, hear first-hand from our Mental Health First Aiders about their experiences of loneliness and how they combat it. We are here to spark this important conversation and share that we are never alone in our loneliness.

RNLI lifeboat and text: 'Mental Health Awareness Week 9-15 May 2022 #IveBeenThere'

RNLI/Mental Health Foundation

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week.

The theme this year is loneliness, something that can affect anyone, no matter their age or background. Experiences of loneliness may look different from person to person – loneliness for some could mean the isolation of working from home. Others may be surrounded by people and still feel lonely.

Mental Health First Aider tips

To highlight Mental Health Awareness Week and the impact that loneliness can have on our mental health, the RNLI's Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) network have bravely put together a series of short videos, which include their own stories, experiences and tips for dealing with loneliness.

This week, meet:

Check back here each weekday to meet a new Mental Health First Aider.

By sharing our own realities and experiences of loneliness, we hope to start to shatter the stigma and empower others to be part of the movement to tackle loneliness.

Loneliness is an experience that comes with being human. It’s time we started talking about it! #IveBeenThere

Loneliness and mental health

Covid-19 and the lockdowns have brought the experience of loneliness closer to millions of us. Whilst some level of loneliness is a normal part of life, if it becomes chronic or long-term it can have serious effects on our mental health. The dangerous part about loneliness is that it can become a cycle: we experience poor mental health because we feel lonely, and that can make us want to withdraw further.

Loneliness can also affect our normal daily routines and stop us from taking part in social interactions, exercise or activities that we usually enjoy. It is also common for people to struggle with sleep, restlessness, increased stress levels and even physical body pain, all of which can further impact someone's mental health.

Although loneliness can have negative effects on our wellbeing, they do not have to be long lasting. We are social creatures and through regular connection to our community, friendships, meaningful work or volunteering and support networks, we can help ourselves and others battle the effects of loneliness.

Loneliness can latch onto anyone, so we can all play a part in reducing it together.

Where to turn for support

If you feel affected by loneliness, poor mental health or just want to know about looking after your wellbeing, please check out the support available in the wellbeing section of the Volunteer Zone.