The theme of this years Mental Health Awareness Week is loneliness. The thought that loneliness is closely linked to poor mental health is a sad one. Feelings of loneliness are personal and differ from person to person. There can be times when we are in a room full of friends, seemingly enjoying ourselves, but deep down have a sense of being alone.
I am writing this blog alone. There are times during our day when we can get on with our ‘to do’ list without distractions from anyone else and this is one of those times for me. Being alone for a time can be healthy. It can be a time for reading and reflection, meditation, listening to music or listening to nature. All these things enable good mental health. In my times alone I can concentrate better, but I know that being alone for a while is fine because I am not lonely. Family is the reason that I am not permanently lonely – it is reassuring to know that during the day I have someone who will make sure I am okay.
For some, though, there is no family to check in on them. At Racing Welfare we have seen how our Check-In and Chat phone calls have made a huge difference to people’s lives. Beneficiaries knowing that they are going to receive a call during the week from someone who is interested in hearing their stories has been quite a success. And the good news is we can all take time out of our schedules to contact someone who is on our mind. Not only will we feel the benefits of this ourselves but, more importantly, the people that we contact will feel cared for, too – it might be the only call they get all week. Loneliness really is one of the saddest themes I have spoken about – it is also one of the easiest topics to correct. I urge you all to think about someone this week who might benefit from a check-in, either in person or by phone. We are relational creatures who thrive in partnerships. Let’s enable somebody else to thrive this week.
Simon Bailey, Chaplain to Horseracing