Usdaw members across the UK are supporting Mental Health Awareness Week from 9-15 May. It’s open to everyone and it’s all about starting conversations about mental health and the things in our daily lives that can affect it and be affected by it.
It was first established by the Mental Health Foundation 21 years ago. To find out more about the week and how to get involved visit: mentalhealth-uk.org
Each year there is a different theme for Mental Health Awareness Week and this year the focus is on loneliness. Loneliness affects so many people at one time or another and it can have a negative effect on our mental health. If we already have a mental health problem then feeling depressed or anxious can make us feel lonely and more likely to withdraw ourselves from being around others.
The last 2 years have led to many more people feeling isolated and alone and many of us have seen far less of our families and friends. As we emerge from the Covid crisis it can be difficult to re- establish connections we have lost.
Usdaw members and reps have the ability to make connections with other members and to support someone to feel less alone. Being in the Union means we are never on our own but it might not always feel that way. This is because even if we do spend time around others, we might still feel lonely. Isolation is about the number of contacts we have, so is an objective thing, whereas loneliness is a subjective feeling about the gap between how much social contact someone would like, and the actual amount of social contact they are involved in; and beyond that, how someone feels about the quality of their relationships.
Giving people the opportunity to talk about mental health if they want to can feel difficult. We may worry that we’ll make the situation worse or that we’re intruding. By actively checking in with colleagues and fellow members we can help tackle loneliness and help members get the support they need to feel safe at work and to get the help they need.
No-one expects you to be an expert, but if you can listen and then help signpost someone to extra support or information, you can make a big difference.
Usdaw has a range of leaflets
to help signpost members for support with their mental health. We can also support you to feel more confident about starting conversations about mental health.
Usdaw Reps can view mental health information here
as well as workplace campaign materials
if you want to hold a mental health campaign day in your workplace.