Mental Health Awareness Week 2022
The Residential Welfare Team are supporting Mental Health Awareness Week to raise awareness surrounding this year’s important theme chosen by the Mental Health Foundation – ‘loneliness’.
Loneliness is something which can impact students living independently, many for the first time are away from friends and family which can be a daunting experience.
Loneliness is a major contributor towards poor mental health so let’s start a discussion of what we can all to do help reduce loneliness in our community – your Halls of Residence and University.
The lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many people who were already struggling faced a decline in their mental health and numerous experienced mental health issues for the first time. Virtual online study made the student experience more isolating and reduced opportunity to connect with others in a social capacity. For many, COVID-19 created a new anxiety regarding their health and that of others. The prospect of no restrictions brought challenges to many of reintegrating into a once again socially active society as things ‘get back to normal’. Their can be immense pressure on students to make the most of their experience, especially when living in London.
The Better Health Every Mind Matters page from the NHS has some useful tips on readjusting to life after COVID-19 restrictions. They have an important message – ‘even positive change can lead to anxiety’.
“A season of loneliness and isolation is when the caterpillar gets its wings. Remember that next time you feel alone” – Mandy Hale
Social Media can often show people you know to be having a great time which can make others feel lonely and isolated, as though they are missing out and different to their peers. This could lead it to be called ‘Not so social social media’ All is often not what it seems on social media as people will only show what they want to show meaning you can never really know what is going on in someone’s life. Social media can cause what is know as increased ‘emotional loneliness’ instead of ‘social loneliness’. Whilst social loneliness means not having many people around you, emotional loneliness refers to a lack of meaningful relationships. It is always important to take a break from your phone and social media – remember to hit ‘do not disturb’ and take some quality time to spend with those close to you. You may spend hours interacting with friends on social media and viewing content however, this is not always a sufficient substitute to in-person conversations and does not allow us to see how someone really is.
We can be around people and still feel lonely – this is a completely normal experience especially for students if you don’t feel heard and feel that anyone understands you. Complex relationships can form at University and we can make a lot of acquaintances and spend time with people however, the key to tackling loneliness is to focus on spending time with others that feels meaningful and enjoyable. One way to do this is to try to help other people – why not reach out to a friend this week to go for a coffee or suggest cooking a meal with your flatmates. It is important to recognise that loneliness is not always caused by a lack of social connections but by unfulfilling ones.
It is always okay to need alone time – no this does not make you antisocial! Take time to do things you enjoy and pursue your interests. Make yourself your favourite meal or try a new recipe, listen to some music, do some self-care. Everything in moderation improves mental and physical health – this applies to having a balance with your social life and alone time.
If you need any support or are concerned for someone else, please reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org we are here to provide pastoral care and support to students living in Halls of Residence.
The Residential Welfare Team
In everything we do, our ultimate purpose is to promote student wellbeing
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