Mental Health Awareness Week begins today (Monday) and this year’s theme is loneliness, which affects millions of UK residents.
In Bedford, local groups will be holding several well-being walks throughout the week, encouraging anyone struggling with isolation and their mental health to take part.
Long-term loneliness is closely linked to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
The week, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, is in its 22nd year and runs from 9 to 15 May.
Mental Health Mates Bedford is part of the national peer support network that meets for a walk each month. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week they are adding an extra walk to their schedule on Saturday 14 May at 11am. The start point in The Pavilion at Bedford Park.
Run by walk leaders, Cory and Janine, the walks are open to everyone, regardless of whether people have a diagnosis, and the aim is to provide the ‘we’ to those struggling alone with mental health issues.
Members are able to walk and talk without fear of judgment.
Just outside Bedford, two well-being walks are taking place around Cardington, organised by Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity.
The circular walks begin at the Barn in Cardington with the first taking place tomorrow (Tuesday) and the second on Thursday (12 May).
Both walks begin at 11:15am and take an hour. They are free to attend by you should register on Eventbrite here.
Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “We hope this year’s theme of loneliness will strike a chord with many of us who felt lonely and struggled throughout the Covid pandemic.
“Millions of us experience loneliness from time to time. We know that some people are at higher risk of experiencing loneliness and the evidence shows the longer we feel lonely, the more we are at risk of mental health problems.
“Loneliness deserves more attention and we’re calling on everyone who has struggled as a result of being lonely to share their experiences. We must work together – as individuals, as a society and through government policy – to reduce loneliness and prevent mental health problems by investing in welcoming, social spaces and new community initiatives.”
Other ways to take part in Mental Health Awareness Week
During Mental Health Awareness Week, use the hashtag #IveBeenThere to share experiences of loneliness to support others and give the campaign momentum.
Sign up to walk, run or jog as part of the campaign’s 80 Miles in May challenge and share your photos using #80MilesinMay and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.