Published date: 10 May 2022

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022: Spotlight on loneliness

This week we’re marking Mental Health Awareness Week and we’ll be reflecting on how we experience loneliness at different times in our lives.

We’ll be looking at how loneliness impacts our mental health and how we can address this, by reaching out to family, friends and our communities throughout the year.

Millions of people in the UK are affected by loneliness and the isolation during the Covid pandemic brought many of us face-to-face with loneliness, reminding us how much we need each other.

Research has found that ‘embracing community helps us live longer and be happier’, so we know that the connections we build and maintain with other people and our communities are fundamental to us feeling mentally well.

Loneliness is not about how many friends we have, or how much time we spend on our own, it is a feeling that we don’t have the social connections that we need or want. And this can be different for each one of us.

In line with our values (Colleagues, Communities, Collaboration and Commitment), raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing, and creating a safe space for colleagues and our communities to speak out if they are struggling and get the help they need, is a top priority at NHSPS.

How are we supporting colleagues with their mental wellbeing?

In 2021, we launched our Mental Health First Aid network, partnering with Mental Health First Aid England to train colleagues across NHS Property Services to identify the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and encourage each other in accessing the right support. We are delighted to have trained 18 colleagues from all areas and levels of NHSPS to provide non-judgmental and confidential support and guidance to anyone who may be struggling with mental or emotional distress.

In addition, we’re encouraging all frontline managers to book their place on the Mental Health Awareness Training course so they feel more confident in supporting their teams.

Every day this week we’ll be hosting 15-minute Live Guided Meditation sessions for colleagues at either 8:40am or 1pm to help them relax and be present in the moment.

How are we supporting community wellbeing?

Over the past three years, we are proud to have delivered 50 spaces for social prescribing.

The NHS Long Term Plan includes a focus on helping people stay healthier for longer and supporting community activities that help improve people’s wellbeing; the fitter, healthier and more socially connected we are, the less likely it is we’ll need to access our local GP or other health professionals.

The NHS is therefore developing social prescribing networks across the country. Patients with multiple complex needs are referred by their GP to social prescribing services where their needs can be assessed and appropriate community services can be recommended such as adult learning, employment support or activity groups to improve confidence or reduce isolation. 

For the past three years, we’ve been transforming spaces inside and outside of our buildings for social prescribing. Our spaces are being used for a range of community support services including therapy, food banks and gardening, and being run by organisations such as The Listening Place and Tenterden Social Hub.

Colleague wellbeing handbook

We’d like to create a workplace where we are all more aware of our own mental health, where we know how to proactively look after our wellbeing, and where we are well equipped to have conversations around mental health and support each other. Take a look at our colleague handbook to find out how we're supporting our people.