Often, when it comes to struggles with mental health, people can find it a difficult task to reach out in person.
One group is trying to overcome that obstacle by offering a social media space to encourage those dealing with mental health to reach out.
Never Be Lonely Again (NBLA) consists of ‘real people giving other real people friendly support’ when it comes to mental health and loneliness.
The social network group is set up to offer 24/7 support to people who feel they need a friendly chat to others in a similar position to themselves – whatever that may be.
But they don’t just talk online.
They are there to help in person with a wide range of events for members to meet up and feel supported with their mental health – including in Southport – along with other destinations across the country.
We spoke to Suzanne Sperrin who is a moderator at Never Be Lonely Again.
Suzanne became a moderator of Never Be Lonely Again after joining the group around a year ago.
She had been suffering with Alopecia, anxiety and depression and found the vital support she needed to overcome her mental health struggles with the group.
“I myself joined the group 12 months ago as I had been suffering from Alopecia, anxiety and depression.
“After being broken into and attacked outside my home.
“I wouldn’t have been able to get over it without the support from the administration and all the members in the group.
“I now not only attend the Liverpool coffee morning, I run the Southport one alongside another moderator from Southport.”
Never Be Lonely Again
Never Be Lonely Again is there to support others no matter what they are going through.
Originally created by Nicola Marsh, the group meets at least three times per month so far – and in a variety of different places – to give as many members the opportunity to join in.
They host coffee mornings and picnics in Southport as well as Liverpool and Prescott and hold camping trips in Conwy.
Their Facebook group has more than 2821 members who can post their comments for support and also offer support to eachother.
Suzanne continued: “We have members all over the UK and some international.
“It’s real people, giving other real people friendly support.
“We hold coffee mornings, picnics, camping trips and much much more.”
The group has been running for over 12 months with around 10 admins and moderators who help organise and run events.
They are always around online and for members who prefer to talk through private messages.
There is also hope to expand the group further into Lancashire.
“It’s a group created for anyone who is or has suffered from any mental health problems, loneliness and many other issues,” Suzanne continued.
“As we have some members in Lancashire already we would like to reach out to as many as possible and hopefully arrange for a coffee morning there too.
“Giving people the opportunity to get out and about and also having friendly support around the clock.”
A number of fundraising events are held by Never Be Lonely Again and the money raised goes towards the group’s activities such as camping and picnics to help keep the costs low for member and encourage as many people as possible to get involved.
Loneliness in the UK
Loneliness can be as harmful for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day – according to Age UK.
Over 9 million people in the UK – almost a fifth of the population – say they are always or often lonely, but almost two thirds feel uncomfortable admitting to it (British Red Cross and Co-Op, 2016).
According to figures published by the Office for National Statistics, in 2016 to 2017, there were 5 per cent of adults in England who reported feeling lonely “often” or “always”.
Younger adults aged 16 to 24 years reported feeling lonely more often than those in older age groups.
People are afraid to ask for help – that’s why the group is there.
Suzanne continued: “It’s a very big problem and some people are afraid to ask for help.
“In NBLA we can ask for support for people anonymously so no one is left feeling alone.”
Although things are being done to help people struggling with their mental health, Suzanne thinks we can go further to help those affected.
“More should be done to help people,” she continued.
“Slowly things are being done.
“While we wait this group provides 24 hour friendly support.”
What advice would you give others?
We asked Suzanne what advice would she giver others who may be going through a difficult period of time with their mental health…
“I would advise them not to go through it alone,” Suzanne said.
“Talk to their friends, family, doctor and of course join a friendly support group.”