Starting a conversation about loneliness

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust recently launched its ‘Starting a Conversation about Loneliness’ resource. This useful resource comprises of Prompt Cards and a Guide and aims to support Trust staff help identify loneliness with service users and carers and enable them to discuss ways to address it.

Even before Covid-19, where feelings of loneliness more than doubled, loneliness was fast becoming recognised as a growing public health concern.

People of all ages can experience loneliness and most of us will have felt lonely at some time in our lives.  Statistics within a 2020 report by the Campaign to End Loneliness and the Action Group on Loneliness Policy in Northern Ireland indicate that 1 in 3 people in Northern Ireland are ‘more often lonely’ while 1 in 20 people are chronically lonely.

Chronic or persistent loneliness can be as damaging to our physical and mental health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, obesity, heart disease and other health conditions including an increased risk of anxiety and depression. The effects of loneliness can also impact the numbers of people contacting their GP, which can in turn place pressure on public services.

Dr Petra Corr, Director of Mental Health, Learning Disability and Community Wellbeing, Northern Trust said, “I am delighted to launch this new loneliness resource. Within the Northern Trust we are committed to finding ways to support all those who may be feeling lonely or who are at risk of loneliness.  This new resource will be a valuable tool to help staff talk about loneliness with service users and carers and help them find ways to address it”.

Yvonne Carson Lead for Loneliness Northern Trust commented “Feeling lonely is a normal human emotion and whilst loneliness is not a pleasant experience this resource will help break the stigma of loneliness by giving staff the the confidence to talk about it more openly and discuss ways to improve social connections”.

Janine Gordon, Mental Capacity Act Governance Lead added, “We know the links between loneliness and poor mental and physical health are well established and without support mechanisms to cope, loneliness can become problematic. We involved staff from the onset and we have received a lot of support and positive feedback from staff who very much welcome this exciting new loneliness resource”.

Twenty Northern Trust Loneliness Champions were also recognised at the event and they were presented with a Certificate of Recognition, Loneliness Champion badge and pack by Dr Petra Corr, Director of Mental Health, Learning Disability and Community Wellbeing.

 

15th December 2022

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