This week (9-15 May) is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year’s focus is tackling loneliness.
We all know and have felt loneliness as a part of normal, everyday life, but when loneliness is severe or lasts a considerable amount of time, it can negatively affect our mental health.
This week, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) wants to help tackle loneliness by showing people who are struggling that they are not alone. Talking about loneliness and its impact is the first step in breaking down barriers, so the MHF is encouraging people to share their experiences of loneliness with the hashtag #IveBeenThere.
Why loneliness matters
National levels of loneliness increased during the pandemic. 5% of adults in the UK said they ‘often or always’ felt lonely pre-pandemic, with this percentage now rising to 7.2%.
Loneliness and social isolation are related but not the same thing. Social isolation is an objective lack of social contacts, which can be measured by the number of relationships a person has. Someone who is socially isolated isn’t necessarily lonely, nor is a lonely person necessarily socially isolated.
The benefits of club life on loneliness and mental health
We are so lucky as BSAC members to have the support of the community and our clubs, but just because someone is getting involved doesn't mean they aren't still lonely. Taking the time to get to know someone you haven't connected with before could make all the difference to their and/or your life.
It is easy to pull away from everyone around you when you're struggling with your mental health, but having the support of your scuba diving or snorkelling club and taking part in club activities can be a great way to involve yourself to alleviate the feelings of loneliness and depression. Sometimes, taking your mind off things and doing something completely different is exactly what you need.
Equally, if someone is a little quiet during club night, support them! Allow them to be involved as much or as little as they want to and let them know you’re there if they do want to talk.
Start the conversation
This week, we would like to encourage our clubs and members to start the conversation about loneliness; at your weekly club night, your pool sessions, or even on your weekend dive.
Being open about your experiences, though difficult at first, can be incredibly rewarding for yourself, but also help others who are struggling and aren’t ready to talk about it.
Wear it green
The green ribbon is the international symbol of mental health awareness, and the Mental Health Foundation encourage people to wear green items of clothing to highlight this. We’d like to encourage our members to ‘wear it green’ at some point this week to bring attention to Mental Health Awareness Week.
Share your club night or dive buddy wearing green with the hashtag #WearItGreen and #BSACdivers.
- Let’s look after ourselves
- Acts of kindness to fellow divers
- Managing mental health
- Discounted mental health awareness training for BSAC members