Last reviewed 10 May 2022

For Mental Health Awareness Week, which is taking place from 9 to 15 May, the Mental Health Foundation is raising awareness of the impact of loneliness on people’s mental health.

For older people, loneliness can become a real challenge as they may have lost a loved one or spouse, moved to a new setting or have developed an illness or a disability.

A survey by the Mental Health Foundation found that 62% of people who reported being lonely “often or always” said that feelings of loneliness had a negative effect on their mental health.

As part of the Mental Health Awareness Week, the Foundation’s Empowerment and Later Life Team co-facilitated a number of focus groups with external partners to give older people an opportunity to express themselves and their experiences around loneliness.

The challenges of connecting digitally and people’s feelings around loneliness were aired through these focus groups. People talked about the different ways they used to manage their daily life, make their wellbeing better and reduce their feelings of loneliness, even if not everyone said they felt “lonely” themselves.

These discussions informed the compilation of a list of tips to help manage and reduce loneliness in later life toolkit, which promotes better mental health.

Simple recommendations include getting out into green spaces; connecting online; exercise, even short amounts to feel more energised; joining social groups; taking up hobbies; and through adult education, volunteering, pets, establishing routines and talking to someone.

The Loneliness — The Later Life Toolkit can be found at www.mentalhealth.org.uk, along with a number of other resources for Mental Health Awareness Week.