Diversity and Inclusion

Mental Health Awareness Week 9 May to 12 May 2022 – Loneliness


At the MPA we take the mental health and wellbeing of our colleagues seriously. As part of our DEI agenda, we have recruited Laura May who is also one of our MPA Board members, as our Champion for Mental Health and Wellbeing. Please read her inspirational blog below. We are also in the process of launching our employee network on Mental Health and Wellbeing in the next few months.

Every year, the Mental Health Foundation sets the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week. This year the theme is loneliness. The Foundation has been tracking loneliness levels in the UK during the pandemic and have found that the experience of loneliness has been much higher with harmful impact. Loneliness has been an important factor adding to higher levels of stress, resulting from people’s sense of isolation and reduced ability to connect with others. Further research by both the Foundation and the Government found that loneliness was one of the key issues that the public felt needed to be addressed.

The week will raise awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental wellbeing and the practical steps we can take to address it.  It is an opportunity for people to talk about all aspects of mental health, with a focus on providing help and advice. Our connection to other people and our community is fundamental to protecting our mental health, and we need to find better ways of tackling widespread feelings of loneliness – and we can all play a part in this. Reducing loneliness is a major step towards a mentally healthy society.

Loneliness is defined as “feelings of sadness or depression because one has no friends or acquaintances; the feeling of being isolated.” It causes people to feel alone, and unwanted. People who are lonely often want human contact, but their state of mind makes it more difficult to do just that. Also, we need to remember that Loneliness is often not the result of being alone, but more about the lack of satisfactory relationships. A person who is lonely can feel so in a room full of people.


Meet Laura May, our Board Director of MPA and MPA Champion for Mental Health and Wellbeing who has kindly shared her own personal story.

Am I or have I ever been lonely?  This is what I have been asking myself since I sat down to write this.  As I’ve had to rack my brains about it, I thought I must not have ever been lonely but then I thought that perhaps I’d buried that somewhere as it’s not really a nice thing to think about, right?

There are a few times in my life where I’ve definitely been isolated.  Ten years ago I had a critical illness that withdrew me from my life as I knew it and left me at home or in hospital, not really able to go anywhere.  I guess part of my recovery was to rejoin society but it was tricky as I was lacking in confidence and full of anxiety.  I wasn’t the same person.  Step by step I rebuilt my life, got a new job and met some new people.

Eventually, I had the courage to start my own business, which is great, but I find myself isolated again working at home on my own.  However, I am lucky as growing and sustaining this business means that I have to leave the house and seek out my business network and, in doing this, I’ve also made some wonderful new friends.

So, am I or have I ever been lonely? Probably. But luckily, I managed the situations before they became anything that could seriously affect my own mental health and wellbeing.  I think it’s important to remember that loneliness can affect each and every one of us at any time of our lives.  It’s indiscriminate and it’s unpredictable because we have no idea how we will react to the situations in our everyday lives.


How can you raise awareness about mental health?

We can all make a difference. The more we talk about the importance of recognising and treating mental health issues with each other, the more we raise awareness. Think of it as a domino effect!

  • Ask your colleagues, friends and family how they’re doing and spend some time listening to them.
  • Share your story about your own experiences if you have them. This could be the encouragement that someone else needs to open up about theirs.
  • Encourage kind language and explore ‘person-centred language.’
  • Educate yourself about mental health and loneliness so that you can pass on your knowledge to those in your circle. This should include talking with children about mental health in age-appropriate terms. Children are not immune and can experience conditions like depression and anxiety at an early age.
  • Social media is a good platform to spread awareness. There’s a lot of important and quality content out there that can reach thousands of people if you share it. We now have the platforms to allow us to reach more people, so don’t be afraid to use them to spread awareness about such important issues.
  • Encourage people to see the connection between physical and mental health. Eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise and sleep all play a part in a person’s mental and emotional state.
  • It’s not always obvious when someone is struggling, or indeed what you can do to best support them if they are lonely or isolated. Look out for changes in people’s behaviour, for example, someone becoming withdrawn, not wanting to engage socially and more. Other people’s mental health may not be your responsibility but don’t underestimate the power of a conversation with a compassionate listener.

What to do if you or somebody you know is feeling lonely
According to a report published by the government, 18% of people in the UK say they often feel lonely. In a nation of nearly 68 million people, that is a lot of people feeling this way. There are many reasons you might feel alone at different times in your life. Whether you’re moving to a new job, feeling disengaged from friends you’ve known for a long time, losing a loved one, going through a breakup, recovering from an illness or are currently ill – the reasons are different for everyone.

If you find yourself feeling lonely, it is important to know that you are not alone and that there are ways to establish relationships and overcome loneliness. By first identifying the reason why you feel lonely, you can address ways to decrease those feelings and establish relationships that give you a sense of fulfilment.

Some suggestions:

  • If you manage to spend some quality time with a friend or someone you are comfortable with, you may be surprised at how much better you feel.
  • Give yourself a little break from social media and try to connect with people on a personal level. When individuals take a break from social media, they usually become more focused on seeking out more meaningful interactions. When this happens, those relationships seem to help the loneliness subside.
  • If your loneliness stems from a lack of self-esteem or the fear of rejection, making social connections may feel out of your comfort zone. However, socialising with others is a great way to address the feelings of loneliness. For example, instead of sending an email /phone call to someone you work with, walk down the hall to their office and speak to them personally. Instead of sending a text to a friend, call them. These small steps will help you become more comfortable with social interaction.
  • Reaching out for support from others, for example, a friend, a colleague, a family member, or a counsellor is a first step towards sharing your thoughts and feelings when feeling lonely and isolated. This is a courageous and important step. Once you connect and share your thoughts and feelings, it frequently releases some of the tension and anxiety you might be experiencing.

Be kind to yourself because you matter!

For further information, please contact:
Helen Choudhury
Head of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

Marmalade Trust is the UK’s leading loneliness charity for all ages and the only charity in the world specifically dedicated to raising awareness of loneliness.

To get involved in this year’s Loneliness Awareness Week campaign, head to marmaladetrust.org/law, or to find out more via social media it’s @marmaladetrust.

Government Report on Loneliness in the UK

Support from the NHS

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