Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

The focus for Mental Health Awareness Week in 2022 is loneliness. Loneliness is something that people of all ages face and can take many different forms.   There isn’t a specific group of people it impacts and a specific group that it doesn’t. What’s more, I have been there. People have been encouraged to share their stories using the #IHAVEBEENTHERE.  Just recently during the bank holiday weekend, I felt lonely and isolated and this has a considerable impact on my mood and my ability to achieve things.

Loneliness is different to being alone. Some people can be alone and enjoy it. I have enjoyed and still very much enjoy my alone time. But we are all social creatures at the end of the day. What impacted me during the bank holiday was with my parents being away for a few days, I was by myself for a week. I had arranged to see a friend on the bank holiday weekend on the Sunday, but unfortunately it never happened as I overslept. This in turn meant time was lost and my friend had to go off and do other things. So I was in fact lonely as I very much craved the face to face social interaction that I missed out on a couple of weekends ago.

I was completely confused throughout that whole day. I was questioning why I overslept. Why I didn’t even hear my friend ring the doorbell, why the alarm I usually set for the morning never sounded.  Maybe the tiredness had caught up with me and I slept through it; I just can’t explain it.

Certain factors increase the impact of loneliness. Some of these apply to me; I’m a young person between the age of 16 and 24, I am single and (when my parents go on a holiday whether in the UK or abroad), I live alone. I also have Dyspraxia and Autistic spectrum features. Having Dyspraxia and Autism features makes life increasingly challenging as I find it is a long and quite exhausting task to process my thoughts and feelings and engage in conversation about this with people. Since birth, I have also lived with eczema, which becomes a much bigger issue when I feel anxious and stressed. When the anxiety and stress hits, I end up feeling embarrassed to be around people especially when they can see the eczema.  All of this can make it more difficult to interact with people and I can find myself spending more time on my own.   It becomes something of a vicious circle.

At Enrych for Mental Health Awareness Week the team in the office have introduced using plastic faces (if we wish to), which show how we are feeling on a particular day.    Above all else it enables us to know when a colleague might be feeling sad and need cheering up or when they may be feeling a bit grumpy and need space.  We’ve been doing a lot of work on thinking styles and how these can impact work and decision making.   We also undertook some neurodiversity training so that we can all understand how to improve the way in which we support our colleagues with disabilities.     We are also encouraging colleagues, particularly those with disability, to talk about how this can affect them and what would be helpful in the workplace for them to work effectively and comfortably.

At the end of the day, I am pleased to be able to share how loneliness impacts me.  We all enjoy our own company from time to time but for those who spend most of the time on their own the feeling of loneliness can be overwhelming and at Enrych we want to do all we can to help ensure now one has to be alone and feel lonely.


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