Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event when there is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health and this year’s theme is loneliness. Why loneliness? Loneliness is affecting more and more of us 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, this Mental Health Awareness Week, CAUSE is raising awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental wellbeing, in particular on unpaid mental health carers and the practical steps we can take to address it. We will all experience loneliness at some point in our lives. It’s time we started talking about it. Loneliness is one of the biggest health challenges our country faces. It can affect anyone at any time and its impact is in line with smoking or obesity. But we can only begin to help one another if we feel able to understand, recognise and talk about it. Loneliness has long been associated with mental ill-health, but in these unprecedented times in the wake of the pandemic our hesitance is still preventing us from hugging people we love, those feelings of loneliness have, for many, gone to the next level. This week will be an opportunity to ask vital questions about how we will reduce loneliness as we continue to come out of the pandemic, and live with Covid-19 in a different way. What carers say makes them feel lonely or socially isolated A third (32%) said they had felt lonely or isolated because of not being comfortable talking about caring with their friends 48% said not having time to spend on social activities has made them feel lonely or isolated 31% said not being able to afford to participate in social activities made them feel lonely or socially isolated. Half(49%) said the difficulty of not being able to get out of the house much has made them feel lonely or socially isolated 'The World Shrinks' by Carers UK as part of the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission Loneliness and caring Social isolation is about how many social contacts a person has, while loneliness is a feeling of a lack of companionship. Loneliness is a feeling that can come and go, or it can be something a person feels all of the time. Caring is such an important part of life. It’s simply part of being human. Carers are holding families together, enabling loved ones to get the most out of life, making an enormous contribution to society and with their support being valued at £132 billion a year. . Carers say that providing care can be extremely rewarding, but it can also bring with it many challenges. The loneliness carers experience is caused by a range of circumstances, many of them out of their control. You may be so busy that you have no time or energy left to see friends and other family, or they may drift away as your life becomes so different from theirs. You may find the emotional demands of caring for a loved one and focussing on their well-being means that you neglect your own. The costs associated with caring, particularly if you have had to give up work to care, can mean that you are struggling financially and cannot afford to do some of the social activities you did before. You can find that your relationships become increasingly transactional rather than affirming and sustaining. For many carers, the world simply shrinks. Your role can become one of providing and co-ordinating care, taking your loved one to medical appointments, going to the pharmacy, liaising with care workers. You can feel invisible, as you fade into the background and the needs of the person you are caring for take centre stage. It can be lonely bearing so much of the responsibility of caring for a loved one. As a unique peer-led regional charity, CAUSE reaches out to mental health carers so they know that they are not alone. We aim to ensure that they can get both practical and emotional support. Crucially we need to do this in a way that doesn’t always rely on people identifying themselves as carers. It can take years before someone self-identifies as a carer, and this can mean essential support doesn’t reach them. But we can all play a role in tackling loneliness among carers. The cultural shift to break the isolation and loneliness of carers starts with small conversations during this week. Help us bring loneliness into the light There is so much you can do during the week. Take the chance to get in touch with a friend or neighbour you haven’t spoken with in a while. Have a look at and share our website and social medial posts, and tips that we’ll be publishing in the week. Most of all, we want to hear your stories of loneliness. Sharing our own stories helps reduce the stigma around loneliness and challenge the stereotypes about who experiences loneliness and how it affects us. Our sections on Take 5 steps to wellbeing has tips to reduce loneliness And check back here throughout the week for more on Mental Health Awareness Week.