Time to help the lonely know that they’re not alone

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Did you know that it’s Loneliness Awareness Week on 17-21 June?

NHS Wolverhampton CCG is supporting Loneliness Awareness Week. Why? Because loneliness can affect a person’s physical and mental health.

The feeling of being lonely isn't a mental health problem, but there a clear link between the two. Having a mental health problem is known to increase the likelihood of feeling lonely and this can have an impact on your mental health. A research study that took place in the Netherlands found that people who feel lonely – which is not the same as being alone, it is about the feeling itself – are more likely to develop dementia later in life.

The Marmalade Trust who created the first Loneliness Awareness Week three years ago, say that:

“Loneliness is a bit like feeling hungry and thirsty. Much the same as when our bodies are telling us that we need to eat or drink something, loneliness is a sign that we need to pay attention to the amount of social contact we’re having.”

Dr Salma Reehana, Chair of NHS Wolverhampton CCG, said:

“Almost every day I meet a patient who feels lonely. For some, from their perspective it’s like a stigma to be seen as lonely. It can quite often lead to depression and it’s well documented that loneliness has a direct link to dementia.

“Loneliness and how it affects a person’s health is of tremendous concern to all doctors and that’s why I think Loneliness Awareness Week is such a great idea. Getting people to talk about it is not only a way to connect with another person, it will also highlight to everyone how widespread this actually is.

“Don’t be afraid to mention this to your GP when you see them. It is far more common than you know and there are some excellent charities and local community organisations that can support people experiencing this.”