Loneliness is a normal part of life, with most of us feeling lonely at some point and experiencing how it can gnaw away at our sense of self-worth and belonging.

Loneliness is not about the number of friends we have, the time we spend on our own or something that happens when we reach a certain age. Loneliness is the feeling we experience when there is a mismatch between the social connections we have and those that we need or want. That means it can be different for all of us.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 will focus on loneliness, bringing it out from the shadows where it so often is hidden. It will highlight the embedded misunderstanding and prejudice around loneliness, and why the length of time we experience loneliness is so vital to its effect on our mental health. It will raise the issues of shame that we often feel and how many of us still struggle to talk about loneliness and how it is affecting our mental health.

“We hope this year’s theme of loneliness will strike a chord with many of us who felt lonely and struggled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of us experience loneliness from time to time. We know that some people are at higher risk of experiencing loneliness and the evidence shows the longer we feel lonely, the more we are at risk of mental health problems. Loneliness deserves more attention and we’re calling on everyone who has struggled as a result of being lonely to share their experiences. We must work together - as individuals, as a society and through government policy - to reduce loneliness and prevent mental health problems by investing in welcoming, social spaces and new community initiatives.” - Mark Rowland Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation


Pandemic increases loneliness

The Mental Heath Foundation study, showed that COVID-19 brought the experience of loneliness closer to millions of us. During the lockdowns, the study found that loneliness was almost 3 times that of pre-pandemic levels. Connections with loved ones, friends, family and everyday relationships were disrupted, or in some cases broken. 

The study showed that this loneliness wasn’t experienced in the same way across our communities. People with long-term physical conditions, people on lower incomes and people with existing mental health problems were more likely to experience loneliness compared to the general UK population. Older people’s risk of loneliness was influenced by factors like whether they were digitally connected.

It can be said that one of the few consolations of the pandemic is that it reminded us of our need for each other. Mental Health Awareness week will be an opportunity to ask vital questions about how we will reduce loneliness as we continue to come out of the pandemic, and live with COVID-19 in a different way.

Support available for loneliness

The Mental Health Foundation will be encouraging people across the UK to mark Mental Health Awareness Week. For example, to take the chance to get in touch with a friend or neighbour you haven’t spoken with in a while.

During the week, they will publish podcasts, animations, personal stories, social media posts, research, policy asks and tips focusing on the topic.

Other resources that are available now include:

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 takes place from Monday 9th to Sunday 15th of May.

Click here to find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week 2022


If you’re going through a difficult time for any reason, our counsellors are trained to help you explore your feelings and experiences in a safe, confidential and non-judgemental environment.  

HDS also works with organisations, large and small, to offer counselling and psychotherapy as part of their Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP).  Our counsellors and therapists have broad experience of working with employees in the public, private and third sectors across Scotland.  

HDS can offer face-to-face, online or telephone counselling. 

Click here to find out more about HDS Counselling Services