Action Mental Health – tackling loneliness and its impact on mental wellbeing.

Mental Health Awareness Week shines a welcome spotlight on efforts to reduce the impact of loneliness on our mental health and wellbeing. For many of Action Mental Health’s services such as our AMH New Horizons services, tackling loneliness and increasing social connections for our clients is a central element of our work throughout the year.

AMH’s New Horizons services which are located right across Northern Ireland, are much-vaunted support networks to people experiencing periods of mental ill-health.

AMH New Horizons operates recovery services that offer wellbeing, vocational and employability programmes. This complements AMH’s emotional wellbeing and resilience building programmes in schools, workplaces and indeed across the community which aim to build a more resilient and healthier population. Last year AMH services supported almost 25,000 local people, of all ages, right across Northern Ireland.

Clients attending AMH New Horizons take part in a range of courses, from therapeutic classes like arts and crafts, to accredited training and work placements through the “Working it Out” project. Working it Out is part funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020, the Department for the Economy and the five NI Health & Social Care Trusts.

The effects of loneliness

There have been many studies on the impact of loneliness and the findings are stark as highlighted below:

  • Loneliness is a killer; in fact it can hasten your death by up to 30% among some risk groups.
  • According to a study of 3.4million people, carried out by Brigham Young University, USA, people who are or feel socially isolated or live alone – whatever their age – are at increased risk of an earlier death. The study’s lead author, Professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad said the harmful effects of loneliness are similar to the harm caused by smoking, obesity or alcohol misuse.
  • The study, Social Isolation, Loneliness and Health Among Older Adults by Caitlin Coyle and Elizabeth Dugan found that loneliness was associated with higher odds of having a mental health problem, while isolation was associated with higher odds of reporting one’s health as being fair or poor.

How AMH is making a difference

Many of our clients regularly tell us that they rely on the social interactions and new friendship networks they build through attending services such as AMH New Horizons and our Mens Sheds to combat their own challenges with loneliness.

We have AMH New Horizons services located across Northern Ireland and you can find out more about the services in your local area by clicking here. On this page you can find contact details for your local service, as well as details on how to access these services for yourself or a loved one.

Our Mens Shed provide a great social setting for men over the age of 50, who we know are one of the groups most at risk of the impacts of loneliness. Our shedders build new skills and friendship networks in a relaxed, comfortable environment, with other people who are facing similar issues. Our Mens Sheds are located in Antrim, Downpatrick and Enniskillen and you can find out more about them by clicking here.

The “Working it Out” project is part-funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020, the Department for the Economy and the five NI Health & Social Care Trusts.

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