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Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place between 9th – 15th May 2022 with a focus on loneliness. Stigma and misunderstanding remain around loneliness, even following the disruption caused to social connection by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Loneliness is the feeling we experience when there is a mismatch between the social connections we have and those that we need or want. It is not about spending time alone or how many friends we have.
Together we can tackle loneliness
One in four adults feel lonely some or all of the time. There’s no single cause and there’s no one solution. After all, we’re all different! But, the longer we feel lonely, the more we are at risk of mental health problems. Some people are also at higher risk of feeling lonely than others.
We are inviting AU sports clubs to share their initiatives for social inclusion to ensure that all our athletes feel involved in a positive club culture. We would encourage you to organise offline activities where possible, to promote the human connection aspect of mental health.
Idea 1: Team Catch-Up
Invite all your team to an end-of-year hang out – think about cooking a meal together, visiting a gallery, attempting an escape room, or something you may not usually do! Even extending the invite could make your teammate’s day.
Idea 2: Kindness Box
Ask your players to send in a message explaining what they’ve appreciated in a certain teammate this season. You can then compile & redistribute these (anonymously) to everyone!
Alternatively, use Instagram stories to collect responses & repost as shoutouts, trying to give the limelight to people who may not usually feel seen!
Idea 3: Review your Club's Social Media
Think about how your club is using group chats and social media: Is everyone included? Are online spaces shared by all teams? Get some different players involved in deciding the content your Club posts (and give your social secs a little break!)
Idea 4: Volunteer
Building up a strong daily community can help prevent or overcome loneliness and volunteering is a great way to widen your support network – check out ways to volunteer across Manchester on Volunteer Hub.
A beginners guide to loneliness
A ‘Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness’ is available from the Marmalade Trust, including questions to ask yourself, as well as ways to support someone suffering from loneliness.
Q: Is loneliness normal?
A: Absolutely! Loneliness is a part of life and something that most of us experience at some point. Loneliness can feel horrible and embarrassing but there is nothing to feel ashamed about. It’s human to feel lonely and there are always things you can do to feel better.
Q: How do I know if I’m lonely?
A: Loneliness means different things to different people. But there is a general sense of isolation or disconnection from others, or a feeling we are lacking or missing social connections and companionship. Loneliness is normally situational, as opposed to depression or anxiety, which can be a constant or all-pervasive feeling we have, no matter what is going on in our lives. We can also feel lonely when we’re not alone, which can feel counterintuitive and confusing.
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