Shared experience of pandemic has made it easier to talk about mental health, but its not enough
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- Half the population feel the shared experience of the pandemic has made it easier to talk openly about mental health
- 1 in 3 spoke more about their mental wellbeing during the pandemic than before it
- Over 30 million people feel a lack of face-of-face social interactions during the pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health and 11 million feel these negative effects will be long lasting
- But neighbourly natters help with mental health says TV presenter Saira Khan
New research out today reveals more than 30 million people in the UK feel the lack of face-of-face social interactions during the pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health, yet despite these staggering figures, only 1 in 3 said they spoke more about their mental wellbeing during the pandemic than before it.
“Friendly waves, a smile or supportive chat from a neighbour that you know are part of the benefits of making local community connections. This can help when you feel isolated, or lonely which are major factors that have been impacting our mental health during this difficult year” says Peter Stewart, Executive Director of the Eden Project who are behind The Big Lunch.
Local lead Grainne McCloskey said "Northern Ireland is known for its friendly reputation, we are good at waving and nodding our heads, asking how you're doing but often walk on without waiting for a reply. That said when the pandemic hit our communities pulled together and help was at hand. The Big Lunch is the perfect excuse for us as individuals to take positive action where we live. We can extend an invite to people in our communities that might need a chat, or who we want to thank for helping us during lockdown. We know from our research that neighbourly ties have strengthened in lockdown, and taking time to chat can support those silently struggling.”
According to research, under 24s have been most impacted with 62% feeling the lack of interaction over the past year has negatively impacted their mental wellbeing, with half of all 25-34 year olds more likely to ask people about their mental health as a result of the pandemic.
These are the findings of a new poll of 4,000 residents from across the UK which show that half the population feel the shared experience of the pandemic has made it easier to talk openly about mental health.
The survey, which was conducted by OnePoll for The Big Lunch, an initiative made possible by The National Lottery and supported by Iceland and The Food Warehouse, further reveals that:
- Over 11 million under 24’s have been left feeling vulnerable because of the pandemic
- Women are more likely than men to feel the lack of face-to-face contact has impacted their wellbeing
- Under 24s are most likely to be worried about the mental health of someone they know (18 million)
- But 12 million people plan to talk more openly about mental health now
TV presenter and journalist Saira Khan, has been a Big Lunch Ambassador for two years. She was surprised by the findings. “Lockdown should have made it easier for us to talk about mental health,” she says. “Despite millions of people being negatively impacted by the pandemic, less than 1 in 3 people spoke more about their mental wellbeing during the pandemic than before it. I have spoken and written very openly about my own mental health as I believe it is crucial to breakdown any perceived stigma around discussing the subject.
“Reassuringly, one of the more positive findings from the survey was that 12 million people feel closer to their neighbours now. I have definitely got to know my neighbours more in the past year and I really value the support I get from my local community. I think it is so important to get together and talk, which is what The Big Lunch is all about. It’s the perfect way to say thank you to the people that have supported us during the last incredibly tough year.”
The Big Lunch is the UK’s annual date to celebrate and give thanks to our neighbours and community. This summer The Big Lunch returns as a moveable feast from June 5 to Thank You Day on 4 July, giving people a whole month to reconnect, chat and share time together in their neighbourhoods. This could be a picnic in the park, a few neighbours in the garden or simply raising a cuppa to each other from the doorstep.
This year, there are more reasons than ever to get together so why not have a Big Lunch and start connecting where you live. Join in from June 5 at thebiglunch.com