Loneliness – Mental Health Awareness Week….

9-15 May 2022 is the Mental Health Foundation’s 21st awareness week on a particular mental health theme. This year’s theme is loneliness.

Not to be confused with being alone, a choice many make and flourish working remotely, living alone, shopping and banking online. It suits them completely. They are not lonely.

Loneliness is not a choice. People can be in a crowded room and still feel lonely. Over time, this feeling can grow and the noise of feeling lonely overwhelms and can impact all areas of someone’s life. The consequences can be devastating for the individual and those closest to them.

Recognising our body’s reaction when loneliness starts to intrude, enables us to do something about it – make arrangements to see friends, do something different with others – an art class maybe. Whatever our self-care toolkit is, we need to move quickly. The mind is a powerful tool designed to keep us safe. To do this, it overthinks negativity to such an extent we can become completely numb and unable to move if we ignore it.

Having our own, bespoke self-care toolkit ready for use when we need a bit of maintenance, in the same way we keep a toolkit for DIY repairs on our homes, is vital. It enables us to be proactive about our mind’s wellbeing which in turn enables us to be aware of any changes in those around us and be effective in guiding them.

Next week I will make a daily post on a specific area of mind wellbeing I’ve practised and taught over the past 15 years on my Twitter and LinkedIn pages in celebration of this vital awareness week.

What will you consider doing to honour this week?

Loneliness – a crippling feeling that can ruin lives

We’ve all been lonely at some time in our lives and know the fear, isolation and hopeless feelings experienced by it.  It doesn’t matter whether we have people around us or not loneliness can creep in at any point.


For people who live alone or in difficult environments, loneliness can be amplified and feel very palpable.


I stumbled across Wavelength, a great charity in Hornchurch, Essex which has tackled loneliness for over 80 years.  Starting by giving radios to people isolated by the World War through the decades evolving to include tvs, iPads and computers to all those in need from refugees, those leaving prison, young people, adults and families anyone already experiencing difficulty in their lives without the added burden of loneliness.


Their research of how people felt before contact with Wavelength and how they felt afterwards shows the massive impact they make.  Working with ONS in the UK tracks the impact of loneliness and the cost in human and family lives as well as business, communities and the health service.


Wavelength reminded me of an interview with the inventor Trevor Bayliss who invented, amongst other things, a robust wind-up radio to be used in global, remote villages which not only tackled loneliness but also delivered information and healthcare.


The simplest ideas are often the most effective and enduring.


Long may WaveLength continue its excellent work.


If you know anyone who is lonely and would benefit from WaveLength’s support, don’t hesitate to signpost them Twitter @WaveLengthHelp or website: http://www.wavelength.org.uk


Steps to effective communication when someone is struggling

Yesterday saw me deliver the second virtual session with 19 members of ISS including all levels of staff.  Learning from each other we explored, how to start a conversation when we’ve seen a change in someone.  This of course takes planning.  When’s the right time, the best location to avoid interruptions, what language should we use, our tone, what empathetic words work best.  What happens if someone doesn’t want to talk? Or if the subject is something painful/against our beliefs/cultural backgrounds?  How can we ensure the person feels validated and supported even though we aren’t the right person?


How do we listen and why is it essential to reflect back on what we’ve heard?  Giving reassurance that emotions are very real to them and natural in the circumstances they are in without giving advice or trying to ‘fix’ them.


Encouraging professional help is a key step.  Sometimes mental poor health is cause by physical issues.  Our mind, body and spirit work so closely together it’s not always easy for professionals to diagnose the real issue.  In Afro Caribbean people they can exhibit signs of depression when in fact they have a Vitamin D deficiency.  So a professional check is always a key step.


Waiting for appointments can be agonising.  Therefore, self care techniques can help manage what the person is feeling whilst they are waiting.  Guiding them to use mediums that usually calm them or indeed trying something new is pivotal to self-care.  Talking of self-care, anyone listening to someone who is in pain emotionally, needs to practise self-care themselves after.  You cannot pour from an empty cup!


We also looked at building a self care plan into our daily routines to enable us to become more resilient in dealing with life’s challenges.


So what did the guys think of the session yesterday?…

“The sessions make you think about things in a totally different way and give you the knowledge on how to approach different scenarios or difficult subjects.  I always look forward to Janes sessions. They are always professionally delivered and interactive which makes them enjoyable as well as very informative.” Mark Hetherington, PwC National Contracts Manager, London

“In an informal setting it gives you a good understanding on what/ how to respond to staff. I’d definitely recommend it to others.” Alison, Birmingham

“I learnt so much from today’s session.  I feel more prepared for dealing with possible vulnerable team members and I know when to stop and understand when something/a situation is beyond me but I know the next steps.  Thanks Jane” Loraine, Belfast

“The steps to thinking about when making an approach was really good, very simple and easy to follow and I now feel a lot more confident if faced with this.” Rakesh

Virtual sessions enable teams split across the UK to collaborate together.  I think this new way of working is here to stay!




Growing Talent 22 starts – remarkable!

What’s remarkable? Lots of things – depending on who you ask!


For employers it’s likely the fact they recruit in a free, no risk way.  Selecting from a pre-screened pool of talent, employers don’t select those who can do the roles but those who have the ability to grow into their roles.  This is key.  The six week journey of Growing Talent enables both parties to be confident the match is right before the point of hire saving time and money.


For participants it’s likely the fact there is a permanent provisional job upfront – the prize they secure on successful completion.  They don’t have to rely on  trying to ‘sell’ their skills and potential through a cv to secure an interview nor explain gaps in skills, qualification, self-confidence if they manage to secure that elusive interview.


For JobCentre Plus (JCP) – it’s the fact their customers go into permanent jobs and learn skills to stay employed thereby not returning to benefits.  In addition, many of their customers not selected by an employer for a permanent role, learn from feedback given to enhance their future employment approaches.  While I quote 148 into permanent jobs – JCP will say the figure is much hire – which is great to hear!


For Care Leavers’ Organisations – employment is the critical key  to leaving care confidently.  Having a steady income enables everyone to make choices in their lives.  It gives us all control.  It isn’t enough to have somewhere safe to live without the means to pay the rent!


For me – it’s the fact a programme I designed, wrote and delivered is still being funded by a global financial services and is now on it’s 22nd programme!  I never expected this and shows the critical key of never doubting yourself – if you do, you’ll talk yourself out of doing anything!  If you keep going, you will find solutions for problems as they arise.  I also find it remarkable how difficult it is to get this unique, free tool to employers and those looking for work.


Seth Godin – talks about the Purple Cow.  When we have so much choice and so little time, we often don’t see what’s there unless it’s remarkable.  Cost & risk free recruitment without any catch is remarkable and still doesn’t get ‘word of mouth spread’  What are your thoughts on spreading the word?