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Loneliness: we all experience it

Loneliness affects everyone at one time or another, and it’s something that can have a significant impact on a person’s wellbeing and mental health. As Mental Health Awareness week draws to a close, we look at how important it is to create meaningful connections with people and how to spot the signs of loneliness in our friends, colleagues and families.

At BPE we have an open plan office that massively contributes to the team culture that makes BPE unique, but despite this collaborative environment, people can still feel lonely both in the workplace and in their personal lives. In fact, one in five people feel lonely at work. Something that has certainly been impacted by the pandemic when we found ourselves working from home and losing that physical interaction with our colleagues.

While hybrid working seems to be the norm nowadays, with people choosing when and how much time they spend in the office, and therefore to a certain extent, being the keepers of their own destiny, loneliness is a concern for most employees.

But what can be done to help staff deal with loneliness and look after their mental health?

Sadly, 46% of workers have said that they wouldn’t feel confident to let a colleague know that they feel isolated or lonely a work. So creating a culture of understanding and support so individuals do feel they can approach a someone, whether they’re a Team Leader, a colleague or a member of the HR team for support is crucial, without fear of judgment or insensitive comments.

Take the time to talk to your colleagues. Ask them how they are and encourage them to give a more detailed answer than “I’m fine” or reassure them that you are there to talk, when they are ready. Encourage people to move away from their desks at lunchtime and take a break with others. By simply giving staff the time and space to make them feel comfortable to share, loneliness can be tackled and hopefully prevented.

It is incredibly important to remind ourselves, and others, that it’s OK to not be OK because mental health is something that should be treated as seriously and compassionately as physical health. Loneliness will always exist in our lives but through listening to our staff, BPE have been able to implement resources to help staff look after their own mental wellbeing.

These notes have been prepared for the purpose of articles only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

*Statistics taken from Mental Health UK.

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