Loneliness, the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2022!
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, an opportunity for everyone to focus on achieving good mental health. The theme this year is loneliness as it’s affecting more and more of us in the UK and having a big impact on our physical and mental health.
In the North East over 51,000 older people describe themselves as lonely all or most of the time. Our region, specifically Durham, tops Care Sources loneliness index as the loneliest place in the UK, Newcastle upon Tyne and Sunderland also rank in the top ten, at numbers four and nine respectively! Many people are dog lovers as 31% of North East households have a dog.. and that’s where Wag comes in!
Wag & Company’s mission is to end loneliness for older dog lovers in our own North East communities. The people we visit were dog owners, they had active lives walking their own dogs and connecting with other members of the dog owning community in their neighbourhoods. As they’ve got older, they’ve lost friends and family and their much loved pets and whilst they would love to have a four legged friend again, their health issues often make it impossible, really heartbreaking.
Wag volunteers share their special dogs and make a big difference by becoming real friends for a regular visit, a chat, a cuppa and a furry cuddle. Something for people to look forward to, someone to share stories with and photos of a lifetime of dog owning and dog loving.
Loneliness is bad for health, that’s a fact! Research has found that it’s as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, it reduces your immunity and lonely people are 50% more likely to die prematurely than those with healthy social relationships.
We know from our experience in Wag how easy it is for people to find themselves feeling lonely and socially isolated. It can start with a deterioration in an existing health problem which one day makes going out difficult and going out alone almost impossible. Once you can’t go out easily, often you don’t have enough people to come in, it happens slowly and quietly until suddenly you start to recognise the effects on you and the way you now feel about your life. If you’re a dog lover, you’ve always found comfort in your four legged friend, often they’re your confidante of choice, and they’re no longer there either. So difficult but Wag volunteers can make such a difference.
As David Dawson, the Older Person’s Specialist from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, tells us …”what you do in Wag is so important because when people are lonely and isolated it is next to impossible to stay well”.
Join us and help us end loneliness for older dog lovers in our North East communities in whatever way you can, volunteer, fundraise, become a Friend, donate, WalkforWag, get involved..
@mentalhealthfoundation #mentalhealthawareness #Endloneliness #wearewag