The month of May holds an important focus on illnesses that are not often visible on the surface.

In the past mental health has been somewhat of a taboo subject, but initiatives such as Mental Health Awareness Week (Mental Health Foundation) and Dementia Awareness Week (Alzheimer’s Society) are doing exceptional work to change common perception and encourage more action.

One such organisation is Contact the Elderly, a nationwide charity that runs community tea parties each month for older people. Hireserve chose Contact the Elderly as our charity of the year last June and we’re extremely proud to be approaching our one year anniversary with the charity. We’ve organised tea parties, bake sales and fundraisers throughout the year raising over £1000 to support isolated and lonely people in our local communities. More importantly, we’ve learned the importance of talking about mental health and the benefits of acting on those conversations with real intent. Our dementia awareness session ran by showed us how even small actions such as talking, or patience can make a huge difference on people affected by dementia and loneliness.

2018 has seen a positive shift in awareness of mental health issues and loneliness is now a recognised problem by the Government. Appointing the world’s first ‘Minister for Loneliness’  in January to help address the scale of the issue. There are many other organisations that are doing exemplary work in spreading awareness for mental health. The Office for National Statistics has looked at loneliness in extreme detail with valuable case studies that show it’s not just the elderly that suffer from being lonely.

According to new research younger adults aged 16 to 24 years reported feeling lonely more often than those in older age groups.

We’ve seen how mental health problems are not discriminative; they can affect anyone at any stage of life. Leading employers to take on an increased responsibility and awareness for their employees. The Mental Health Foundation is a great resource for finding ways to implement positive changes in the workplace to support staff. Their interactive stress test is a good place to start and an intuitive way of making you and your colleagues really think about your personal health.

There are plenty of ways to help nurture a wellness at work. You could incorporate flexible working opportunities or encourage remote working, create mental health schemes through training and awareness courses for staff, and offer more personal benefits for employees. People Management offer some great ideas revolving around improving the workplace wellbeing and, in particular, combating loneliness in the modern age of working.

Working with Contact the Elderly and participating in awareness courses has made the whole team at Hireserve more aware of their own health and the team around them. We’re always learning, but we’re now better equipped to support one and other, understand individual needs and limitations, and have empathy when things get tough.

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About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.