Tackling lonliness to improve mental health week

World Mental Health Day takes place on Saturday 10 October and NHS Dumfries and Galloway is taking the opportunity to raise awareness of the effect loneliness can have on our mental – and physical - health.

Health and Wellbeing Specialist, Claire Thirlwall said: “The Befriending Network estimates that 68% of adults in the UK say they feel lonely either often, always or sometimes. People can feel lonely for all sorts of reasons, for example loss of employment, bereavement or the result of stigma and discrimination.

“Loneliness increases the risk of heart disease and is estimated to be as bad for people’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It can also have huge impact on people’s mental wellbeing.

“Good quality connections with other people can provide a huge range of benefits in terms of support and friendship. Locally there is a wide range of ways to meet new people and make new friends.”

One of the best ways to find out about opportunities in your area is through your local Healthy Connections Link Worker. This initiative aims to support people who want to connect with local activities as a way of addressing loneliness and improving mental health. Opportunities include art, exercise, volunteering, financial and employment advice.

For details on what’s on offer in your area contact your local team:

Healthy Connections Wigtownshire 01671 404 267

Healthy Connections Stewartry 01556 505 724

Support in Mind Scotland branches are marking Mental Health Week with the Stranraer Support in Mind Open Day, Thistle Street, Stranraer 10.30am to 3.30pm on Friday, 9 October.

If you need someone to speak to in confidence please contact the Samaritans on 116 123.

Alternatively call Breathing Space Scotland on 0800 83 85 87 (Opening hours are Monday to Thursday 6.00pm to 2.00am and from Friday at 6.00pm to Monday at 6.00am).