S2: E3 Loneliness
Loneliness is more than an emotional experience. Recent research has shown that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health. Loneliness is also not about the number of people you know, but the quality of connection to those people. In this episode, we talk about some strategies to help overcome loneliness.
Listen to this episode:
Phil and his wife Jan own and manage “Ochre Arch” a farm near Grenfell, Australia. Enterprises include beef cattle, merino sheep and hosting educational tours on their farm. Phillip is Treasurer of the Grenfell Men’s Shed (assuming the role in 2013 following the suicide of a key founding member) and is a local Councillor for the Weddin Shire. He is by nature an organiser and is passionate about men’s mental health. As a Councillor he wants to see the population of the Shire increase significantly. Focus areas include youth and young families and attracting significant employers to the area.
Di Gill has been working with the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program for over 10 years. Based in Canowindra, Western NSW, Di is well integrated with local communities and understands the hardships that extreme weather can cause. Over the past year, Di has dealt with fires, floods and drought. Di will often be a central contact when there are emergencies and disasters in the community, helping people get the mental health support they need.
Kristen Suzlik has worked as a social worker in the area mental health since 2005 in both inpatient and community settings. The majority of her work has focused on Older People’s Mental Health, working in regional areas and providing support to people living the community, Residential Aged Care Facilities and to families and carers. She is currently working in the role as Acting District Coordinator for Older People’s Mental Health Services for the Western NSW Local Health District.
Act-Belong-Commit is a comprehensive mental health promotion campaign encouraging individuals to take action to protect and promote their own mental well-being, as well as encouraging organisations that provide mentally healthy activities to promote participation in those activities.
The A-B-C guidelines for positive mental health provide a simple approach that we can adopt to become more mentally healthy:
Act: “Do Something” -Keep active in as many ways as you can -physically, socially, mentally, and spiritually.
Belong: “Do Something with someone” -Keep connected to friends and family; get involved in groups, join in local community activities.
Commit: “Do Something meaningful” -Commit to an interest or a cause; set goals to aim for; become a volunteer; learn a new skill; challenge yourself.
The Australian Coalition to End Loneliness (ACEL) aims to raise awareness of, and address, loneliness and physical social isolation through evidence-based interventions and advocacy.
Inspired by the work of the UK Campaign to End Loneliness as well as international research evidence of the physiological, psychological, social and economic costs of loneliness and social isolation, ACEL has drawn together research expertise from Australian and international universities, service delivery expertise from not-for-profit organisations and government agencies, community groups and skilled volunteers, in order to address loneliness in Australia.
Mind: Mind is a UK based charity that provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. “We won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect”.
Mind has a number of resources and ideas on how to cope with loneliness. You can access these here:
Lifeline: Read about Lifelines research into Loneliness in Australia
News: The Conversation asks “What is loneliness, and how to beat it”
News: What can we do to combat the increasing levels of loneliness in Australia? OmniPoll survey of 1200 Australians says that the number of close friends we have have dropped in the last 10 years
News: BBC news offers some suggestions to help tackle loneliness
If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.
If you’re concerned about your own or someone else’s mental health, you can call the NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511 for advice.
Having a tough time and need someone to talk to right now? The following services are here to help. They are confidential and available 24/7.
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
- Men’s Line Australia– 1300 78 99 78
- Kids Help Line – counselling and support provided for young people (to 24 years old) who are feeling depressed, sad, or lonely – or just need someone to talk to – 1800 55 1800
- Domestic Violence Line – 1800 656 463
- Suicide Call Back Service– 1300 659 467