Achieving positive mental health is by far the most important thing to do all year round! For the past 21 years, ‘The Mental Health Foundation’ have set up an annual week in the month of May for everyone in the UK to help celebrate and spread awareness. This is known as ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’. This occasion has been said to have become one of the biggest awareness weeks' not only in the UK but around the world.
Every year, the Foundation sets up a new theme for the week depending on current/recent issues. This year for 2022, they will be raising awareness on how our mental-wellbeing has been impacted by ‘Loneliness’.
Why? Along with many effects that the pandemic has caused, loneliness is a massive one which is still the case for many of us nationwide. With thanks to the rising use of technology and the internet, there are many apps and websites out there which can help someone, whatever their situation, connect with other people possibly going through exactly the same issues.
Here is a list of apps we have picked out…
For Mums/Women – Peanut
Peanut is known as a comfort zone space for women to connect with each other whatever stage they are in from puberty and pregnancy through to motherhood and menopause.
This app was founded in 2017 by Michelle Kennedy, a first-time mum who had a vision to help reduce the feelings of isolation and allow women to find each other. She achieved this by providing an smartphone app which acts exactly like ‘Tinder’ where women can ‘swipe’ to find new friends within their local area. From then on they can meetup for coffee dates, play dates with their kids or even just linking virtually.
They also provide a ‘forum’ with blog posts, articles and podcasts about different topics along with a ‘comments’ section where they chat further about that particular theme.
For Anyone – Meetup
Meetup is an online platform where people can find a network of others with similar interests. With a current user base of over 35 million people; you can join events, groups and even create your own group!
Anyone can register for free to join multiple groups/events whether you’re interested in sports, arts & culture, music, anime/manga, or absolutely anything else, you can find a group within your local area or virtually to meet new people to connect with.
They also have groups available aimed at particular communities of people – such as certain age groups, LGBTQ+ community, disabilities/conditions (ASD, epilepsy, anxiety/depression, downs syndrome and all kinds.)
For Students – TalkCampus
Trusted by many colleges and universities nationwide and around the globe, TalkCampus is a 24/7 mental health support network currently supporting thousands of students across 25 languages. Mental health is an ongoing issue for students due to constant pressure with common circumstances such as their coursework, ‘fitting in’ with friendship groups and making it through to graduation!
According to their website, over 80% of students have said they prefer to open up about their struggles to the app rather than their school, and have found it easier to ask for help since using the app.
For Elderly – Companiions
Whilst many of us have suffered from loneliness during the pandemic period, there is an increased risk of loneliness in older people due to a variety of reasons. Companiions is an app, usually used by an elderly person’s younger relative (child, grandchild or neighbour etc.) where they can find a local ‘companion’ to give mature adults daily assistance like shopping, dog walking, house chores or even just to keep them company so they’re not alone.
What makes this process even better is that before they meet the companion in-person, they can arrange the first introduction via video call. That way they can make sure the carer they’ll let into their home with a vulnerable adult isn’t dangerous before going ahead with the arrangements.
Companiions have partnered up with Age UK Surrey, a charity where their mission is to help tackle loneliness and improve mental well-being for people aged 50+. The only downside to this app is that you’d have to pay for companions by the hour.
If you’re looking for a free option, Facebook does have private groups where elderly people can connect with each other. Private groups are best as you’ll only be invited/accepted into a group if you fit their audience and requirements.
For Unpaid Carers – Family Umbrage
Cpl UK’s charity partner for 2022, After Umbrage, run a private Facebook group to help share a safe space for unpaid carers to tell stories, personal tips, ask for advice and to be part of a community; the group is called Family Umbrage.
Because this is a private group, members will be strictly approved by After Umbrage themselves, so the general public cannot see any posts made by anyone on their page.
The charity encourages members to open up on their personal stories about caring for their loved ones, including the ups and downs. Their mission is to help build a family unit where people feel comfortable sharing their struggles and to support each other based on their personal experiences.
For Dads – TheDadsnet
TheDadsnet is a website that offers podcasts, forums and articles on topics relating to dads, mums and children.
They also make regular themed podcasts for dads to listen to – there’s one called ‘raising children with a Diffability’ which is hosted by two fathers whom both has children with autism and epilepsy. They together explain their challenging experiences raising their sons, and feature guests from charities and experts.
TheDadsnet also post regularly on their social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). They even have a story highlight on Instagram dedicated to mental health with tips on how to maintain a better well-being.
What makes this website good for dads who feel alone is that they have a forum page where they can interact with one another on certain topics, or they can discuss via posts on social media. From there they could connect privately and perhaps arrange meetups if they’re local.
For anyone going through rehab/addictions – I Am Sober
‘I Am Sober’ is an app which aims to help individuals wanting to cut down or even give up any bad habit; from alcohol and smoking to caffeine, junk food or energy drinks.
Similar to fitness apps, it can guide you to keep track on how long you’ve been free from your addiction for and how far you are from achieving your goals. Just like most apps we’ve mentioned, this one also comes with blog posts with tips on how to stop the addiction, which is all split into each substance.
There is a community section in the app where people can post about their progress which others can interact with. Followers can even connect with members possibly going through the same addiction, from there they can help each other by sharing tips and stories – eventually they can arrange meetups in-person or virtually.
For LGBTQ+ – MindOut
MindOut is a mental health charity aimed at supporting the health and wellbeing of the LQBTQ+ community. They provide an online chat service where people can talk to counselors about their struggles. They also have a page dedicated to suicide prevention, offering support for those with suicidal thoughts or those who know someone that does.
MindOut run weekly chat sessions virtually, however some of them are specifically targeted at certain communities – including transgender or non-binary groups, people of colour (BAME), 50+ age groups (they run a campaign called ‘the 50+ Project) and even those struggling with housing.
For Dog Owners – PawDates
Although dogs make excellent companions, it is of course nice to interact with humans too. Local pet owners can connect with each other using this app and meet up at dog parks or go on walks with their dogs. You'll be able to schedule doggy play dates while also making new friends! It's a win-win situation for both humans and furry friends.
This would be useful for new pet owners as they could possibly learn some tips from some experienced owners. They can share stories on their current experiences and potentially learn from one another.
COVID made many people forget how to communicate, so let’s use this week to teach the public how to do so and find the right companions to connect with.
With those listed apps and websites along with several others available, they will help you connect yourself with meaningful people who could change your life. Even better so, you could even change someone else’s’ life for the better.