Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service is celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week across the two counties. Running from 9-15 May, and backed again by the Mental Health Foundation, this year's theme is 'Loneliness', its effect on our mental health and how we can all play a part in reducing loneliness in our communities.
Across the country, the Week will raise awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental wellbeing and the practical steps we can take to address it, with reducing loneliness being a major step towards a mentally healthy society. Loneliness affects millions of people in the UK every year and is a key driver of poor mental health.
The Foundation's Mental Health in the Pandemic research has found that loneliness has been exacerbated by Covid, with devastating impact. It has found that loneliness has been an important factor contributing to higher levels of distress, resulting from people's sense of isolation and reduced ability to connect with others. Further polling also found that loneliness was one of the leading issues that the public felt needed to be addressed.
Emily Dudley, Employee Engagement and Wellbeing Officer for HWFRS said: "This year's Mental Health Awareness Week is a good opportunity to reach out to our colleagues as no one should be lonely or isolated. It may be the first time someone decides to talk about their mental health. Whether it's having a cuppa and a catch up, or going on a walk, it's important we actively check in on our colleagues and those around us."
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Guy Palmer has signed the Mental Health at Work Commitment on behalf of the Service, along with other UK businesses, mental health charities and public sector organisations to promote and improve mental health in the workplace. He said:
"Virtually everyone experiences loneliness from time to time and it can become more acute around holidays however not enough people feel comfortable or are able to talk about the feelings of loneliness.
"Putting a spotlight on the issue will help deal with the mental health issues associated with it, and hopefully encourages us all to talk about it and to start to find new ways of dealing with it, perhaps joining a gym class, volunteering or just practicing self-care.
"We can, and should, always take 5 minutes to ask those around us how they are..."
Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: "We hope this year's theme of loneliness will strike a chord with many of us who felt lonely and struggled throughout the Covid pandemic.
"Millions of us experience loneliness from time to time. We know that some people are at higher risk of experiencing loneliness and the evidence shows the longer we feel lonely, the more we are at risk of mental health problems.
"Loneliness deserves more attention and we're calling on everyone who has struggled as a result of being lonely to share their experiences. We must work together - as individuals, as a society and through government policy - to reduce loneliness and prevent mental health problems by investing in welcoming, social spaces and new community initiatives.
"Loneliness is affecting more and more of us in the UK and has had a huge impact on our physical and mental health during the pandemic. That's why we have chosen it as our theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2022.
"The week is also an invaluable opportunity for people to talk about all aspects of mental health, with a focus on providing help and advice." Some of the ways people can participate in Mental Health Awareness Week:
- During Mental Health Awareness Week use the hashtag #IveBeenThere to share experiences of loneliness to support others and give the campaign momentum.
- Sign up to walk, run or jog as part of the Foundation's 80 Miles in May challenge and share your photos using #80MilesinMay and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.
Fire Safety advice
Consider whether a friend or family member with mental health challenges needs fire safety advice in their home. You can find out more about fire safety at hwfire.org.uk/safety-and-advice/, and you can also contact our Prevention Team on 0800 032 1155 to see if they might qualify for a free Home Fire Safety visit. You can also complete a FREE online Home Fire Safety Check now by following the link on our website. Developed in partnership with Safelincs, this easy-to-follow home fire safety check will take you through your home one room at a time and the simple questions will help you spot fire risks as you go around your home. Why not do it today?!
Find more information about this year's Mental Health Awareness Week, here.
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