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Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 – Loneliness

Mental Health Awareness Week (9th to 15th May 2022)is an annual event when there is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. The Mental Health Foundation started the event 21 years ago. Each year the Foundation continues to set the theme, organise and host the week. The event has grown to become one of the biggest awareness weeks across the UK and globally.

The theme this year is Loneliness.  

Why loneliness? 

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.    

So, in May 2022, the Mental Health Foundation will be raising awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental wellbeing and the practical steps we can take to address it.    

Reducing loneliness is a major step towards a mentally healthy society.

Same Storm, Different Boats

Over the past few years we have all be in the same storm but in different boats, experiencing a wide range of thoughts and feelings.  There is no doubt that this may have negatively impacted on people’s wellbeing and mental health.

For many, technology has been fantastic in enabling us to stay connected with loved ones, helped us to work from home, provided a platform for online learning and to gain access to wellbeing resources, however, we should recognise that everyone’s needs are different.  Some may have experienced feelings of loneliness through isolation in lockdown and the aftermath and be anxious about navigating the new world ahead.  Whatever you are feeling right now, please know that you are not alone and that there is always help available.

Young Minds Matter

We need to create a vision for recovery where every child and young person is seen, heard and their feelings validated.  Young people have experienced loss in many forms throughout these times, we now need to bridge the gap of opportunity for repair.

We know that good mental health can have a great impact on the life outcomes of young people.  We also know the benefits of connecting with others though social activities and achievements.  The Princes Trust offer the opportunity for young people to stretch and grow through their programmes of life experiences.

Here are some tips to encourage a child’s positive mental health:

  • Observe – is the child or young person acting differently?
  • Communicate – encourage communication and offer opportunities to check in with their emotional temperature
  • Encourage – provide coping mechanisms for when they are feeling overwhelmed
  • Sleep – make sure the young person is getting good quality sleep
  • Listen – to understand and not necessarily to respond
  • Reach Out – don’t be afraid to ask for help from a GP, others in school or specialist service
  • Praise – remind young people of their accomplishments and strengths
  • Educate – help children and young people learn about the signs of mental health and remind them of how they can get help

The Five Ways to Wellbeing researched and developed by The New Economics Foundation is a great way to explore ways to look after our mental health and wellbeing.  Start taking action today by listing the things that you can do to Connect, Be active, Take notice, Keep learning and Give.

Educate Well

It is vital that staff keep healthy in their roles.

Here are some of my top tips for topping up your wellbeing cup:

 Rest Well 

  1. Take time away from tasks
  2. Give yourself permission to not be helpful
  3. Do something unproductive
  4. Connect with art and nature
  5. Take solitude to recharge
  6. Give yourself a break from responsibility
  7. Practise stillness to decompress
  8. Go into your safe space
  9. Make time for alone time at home

Remember to make healthy habits for self-care:

Family Matters

Connecting with nature has been our go to during the pandemic. Research at the Harvard Medical School is growing a scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong link that those who did a nature walk had lower activity in the prefrontal cortex.  It explored that interacting with natural spaces offers therapeutic benefits.

The Education People launched their #WalkForWellbeing campaign for last year's Mental Health Awareness Week.  They share ideas of the ways that you can get creative with your walks in nature whilst spending quality time with your loved ones.  You can download the resource here

   

LGfL Resources to Support Mental Health Awareness Week and Beyond

Mental Health and Wellbeing Site

LGfL has a dedicated Mental Health and Wellbeing site; intended to support schools to develop a positive culture and talk about "mental wealth". The videos explore the range of unique training opportunities offered to the LGfL community to support schools wherever they are currently on their journey regarding mental health and wellbeing for both staff and pupils.

MHWB

One of the videos explores "why is it important to measure wellbeing and mental health?". Watch below:

 

Best For You  

Best For You is a new NHS mental health project for young people (we have a link to it from our Mental Health and Wellbeing site) . It aims to reduce stigma, improve knowledge and awareness of mental health, and connect different aspects of mental health support to make it easier for young people and families to find and access the mental health help they need. 

 Best For You is run by three NHS Trusts and an NHS charity, with partnerships with a range of community organisations. Imperial College are evaluating the project. Young people are involved in designing and feeding back on every aspect of Best For You. 

 The Best For You website and app library launched in 2021, and give young people high-quality information and support about mental health and wellbeing. Community partnerships mean young people can get involved with exciting opportunities that improve wellbeing, and a day service opening in 2022 will provide a drop in space for young people to access support. 

Crucially, Best For You works with educational settings to make sure that young people are aware of everything on offer through Best For You. If you have any feedback, or want to get involved with the project, please email BestForYou@cwplus.org.uk

Below Chris Chaney (CEO CW+) explains why we need to focus on wellbeing not mental health. 'I think we need to make the conversation about mental health and not about mental health illness, but about wellbeing. Wellbeing equals prevention; and prevention is good for all of us.'

 

This video is amongst six which appear on our Mental Health and Wellbeing site.

Wellbeing Connected

LGfL's Wellbeing Connected for Primary Schools resource has been designed to bring the key information featuring experienced practitioners through video and text format with a quick and accessible interface.

Screen shot of wellbeing connected website. Shows navigation of sections. Why mental health matters, staff, pupil, community, whole school approaches and resources and links.

The resource is grouped into the following areas:

The portal is designed to be used by staff within schools to plan their whole school approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing and how all parts of the school community can be supported. The expert video clips, information packs and carefully curated external links are provided for staff to deliver comprehensive support. Alongside videos, there are also template policies, wellbeing questionnaires and guidance for schools to use and adapt as well as thinking points that can be used as part of staff development looking at the importance of wellbeing for staff, the community and for the video below the importance of Mental Health and Wellbeing for pupils.

Healthy Minds

LGfL's Healthy Minds was produced in partnership with the leading mental health charity for young people - Young Minds. The resource features a range of teacher led activities involving group work promoting self reflection and video content with supporting activities. The main activities are designed for use with learners in upper KS2, KS3 and KS4 with some resources designed for use by staff and/or for parents.

The resource is split into the following sections:

  • Mental Health and Resilience Activities For Young People
  • Mental Health and Resilience Resources For Staff
  • No Harm Done - materials for staff, parents and young people
  • Handy Websites and Apps

We are also aware the pandemic has led to many pupils suffering bereavement in their life and this can of course have an impact on their mental health. If you are supporting any pupils with managing their grief please take a look at Supporting a Bereaved Pupil and Managing a Sudden Death in the School Community. Both resources were created in collaboration with Child Bereavement UK "Managing a Sudden Death" looks at what proactive action you and your staff team can take to support your school community through a bereavement.  Grief is a normal and natural response to loss, yet how pupils are supported can have a significant impact on the long term outcomes. This resource looks at making plans to provide the right support at a difficult time. There are sections dedicated to supporting a bereaved family and supporting your staff team at or shortly after a bereavement with more on this in "Supporting a Bereaved Pupil" which looks at supporting learners who have experienced a bereavement.

Reach Out for Help

For Children and Young People

  • Young Minds is the UKs leading charity for children and young people’s mental health and offers a huge range of resources
  • Childline is a free, confidential service where children can talk about anything. It offers a host of help and information and this includes a Calm Zone
  • On My Mind app
  • The Mix in partnerships with the Heads Together campaign supports the under 25’s with a wide range of resources including helplines

For Educators

For Parents and Carers

For Everyone

  • Mind UK provides support for people with mental health problems
  • The Samaritans a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year support line
  • Every Mind Matters is the NHS online tool that gives simple and practical advice to get a healthier mind and to get more out of life

Please share what you have done in school to talk about #Loneliness via our Twitter or Facebook pages.

(Blog reworked from the previous one written by Kelly Hannaghan published in 2021)

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