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Mental Health Campaign Aims To Highlight Issues Stemming From Loneliness With The Pandemic Having A Greater Impact

Loneliness is a challenge that can have a significant impact on someone’s mental health and well-being. Mental health charity Voices of Hope’s campaign Unite Against Loneliness focuses on raising awareness around loneliness and how this has skyrocketed due to the global pandemic. Many of the older generation already experience feelings of isolation and loneliness and the past 19 months have only added to that. The youth rates are also extremely high - as part of the campaign Voices of Hope is putting out a call to action, which includes encouraging people to reach out and connect to their friends, family, classmates, colleagues and people in the community.

Due to the positive impact and feedback from the project last year and also the on-going challenges with loneliness, Voices of Hope are again in 2021 partnering with Age Concern NZ to distribute Christmas cards to members of the older generation who may be alone these holidays. After hearing from participants in last year’s effort that being part of the project gave them a sense of purpose and that they were glad to be doing something good in the community alongside receiving kind words from those who were grateful to be on the receiving end of this, Voices of Hope are thrilled to be doing this again.

“The art of sending a card to someone at Christmas seems to have been lost over the years, we are encouraging people to revive the tradition of sending someone a nice card in the mail. This could be a family member, neighbour, someone you know of or mail it to us, and we can make sure it gets out to someone in need of a bit of cheer. Hopefully this will help someone feel a bit less lonely this Christmas.” says Voices of Hope co-founder Genevieve Mora.

While Voices of Hope had some of their plans for the project dashed due to lockdown restrictions, they would like to invite people to connect digitally with their messages online challenge. Voices of Hope is asking the community to snap a picture of themselves holding a piece of paper with a written message to someone who may be struggling and post it to social media with the hashtag #uniteagainstloneliness. Voices of Hope co-founder Genevieve Mora wrote “the world is better with you in it” on hers.

Loneliness New Zealand Charitable Trust’s August 2020 report found that 10% of adults felt lonely during the lockdown and in the 15-24 age group, 5.8% felt loneliness pre-lockdown, 20.8% during and 17% post-lockdown which is a large and worrying jump with the number of youth experiencing loneliness still at a high level (of 17%) post-lockdown.


The Helen Clark Foundation’s April 2021 report (by Holly Walker), ‘Still Alone Together’ shows that while numbers overall may not be as high as during the lockdown periods, a number of groups are still dealing with loneliness. Walker says “These findings highlight the unequal impact of the pandemic. New Zealand has undoubtedly experienced one of the best worldwide responses to Covid-19, but within that, some people have still been left lonely, isolated, and vulnerable. We can’t afford to leave some people struggling while others recover.” 
 

“This Christmas will have the added challenge for some families who aren’t able to be together due to border closures and travel restrictions. It’s important to look after your own wellbeing, connect with others, reach out for help if you are feeling down and if you can then make an extra effort to send a message to friends, neighbours and loved ones” says Voices of Hope co-founder Genevieve Mora.

 

Helplines: 
1737, Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 to talk to a trained counsellor.

Notes:

Unite Against Loneliness is a call-to-action campaign focusing on raising awareness around loneliness and how this has skyrocketed due to the pandemic.

Voices of Hope is a mental health charity based around the experiences of mental illness survivors Jazz Thornton and Genevieve Mora. We aim to create and implement change for mental health, whilst raising awareness and providing hope through the voices of those with lived experience.

Loneliness Charitable Trust - August 2020 report.

Still Alone Together - April 2021 report - quote by Holly Walker.

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