Loneliness can strike anyone. Anywhere. Even in London. London is the loneliest city in the UK according to research commissioned by the Greater London Authority. But no matter where, or when, or who loneliness strikes, there’s often one thing that can help — the power of a voice.
To mark the theme of loneliness for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, Uncommon Creative Studio and ITV have launched their next iteration of the UK’s most recognised mental health campaign, Britain Get Talking, supported by Mind and YoungMinds. The new campaign, Voices Against Loneliness, encourages the nation to send a voice note and help beat loneliness. Just hearing someone’s voice has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Voice notes are an easy way to reach out and let someone know they’re thinking of them. And people can record them just about anywhere.
This week ITV flooded London with voice notes from ITV talent to show that while anyone can be affected by loneliness, anyone can help. Phillip Schofield’s voice note advised people on how to reach out to struggling friends, for example. Laura Whitmore gave top tips on how to pull someone for a chat. The voice notes, from celebrities such as Alex Beresford, The Vivienne, Laura Whitmore, Phillip Schofield, Charlene White, Liberty Poole, Maggie Alphonsi, Maura Higgins and Vick Hope, encourage people to stop and think about others in their lives who could do with a check-in from a familiar voice.
Because loneliness can strike anywhere, ITV and Uncommon placed the voice notes in locations that interrupt people in moments where they may have the time to reach out to someone – backseats in cabs, pizza boxes, beer mats in pubs, coffee shops and bus stops. The public can access the voice note by simply scanning the barcode on the sticker to listen via their mobile phone. The campaign webpage also contains tips about reaching out to others and points to support from Mind and YoungMinds for those who need it.
The voice notes featured on This Morning on Thursday May 12 with Phillip and Rochelle.
“When you’re lonely, you can’t see a way out of it. Trust me, I have been there — it’s exhausting and really hard. But helping a friend who’s feeling lonely, now that’s different, couldn’t be simpler. Send a voice note like this — whatever you decide to say, they’ll hear you care and they might just decide to open up,’ stated Phillip Schofield.
“Hello you gorgeous creature — what a pleasure this is to be so close to your ear hole,” said The Vivienne.
“It’s nearly villa time. But you know, there’s something from the show we could all be doing a lot more of. I’m talking about pulling people for a chat — especially if you know somebody that’s feeling a bit lonely,” Laura Whitmore added.
“Us Brits, we’re good at talking about the weather aren’t we? I wish we were as good as talking about other stuff. If you know someone who might be feeling lonely, don’t wait for them to open up — make the first move and send a voice note,” Alex Beresford said.
Britain Get Talking first launched in 2019 by pausing the live broadcast of Britain’s Got Talent, and then as lockdown beckoned, Ant and Dec invited the nation to send their messages of support for broadcast and to stay in touch with the message that we’re ‘apart, but never alone’.
Since then, research indicates that Britons have had 100 million new or more meaningful conversations as a result of the campaign, which has featured celebrities from Captain Tom to Susanna Reid, Maya Jama to Shirley Hancock. It was most recently on air with ITV’s Christmas campaign. ITV originally set a target of getting 10 million people to take action as part of its 5-year commitment to support mental and physical wellbeing, but has already surpassed that, having encouraged 5.1 million people to take action in 2021 alone.
This campaign is part of ITV’s broader suite of content marking Mental Health Awareness Week including a children’s mental health phone-in on This Morning, the return of Loose Men to lift the lid on the mental health struggles affecting men, and Good Morning Britain and ITV Regional News focusing on how the cost of living crisis is affecting mental health.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, stated, “This year, the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week is loneliness. Everyone can feel lonely at some point in their lives. We can be surrounded by people — either at home or through work — and still feel isolated. This can, in turn, have an effect on our mental health. Equally, mental health problems like anxiety or depression can make us withdraw from people around us, making it difficult to reach out or meet people face to face. We’re proud to support ITV in encouraging everyone to use their voice to beat loneliness. This Mental Health Awareness Week, reach out. Simply letting someone know you’re there can make all the difference.”
Emma Thomas, Chief Executive of YoungMinds, added, “The pandemic brought young people isolation from friends and family, disruption to their education and also reduced access to support. We know many are still feeling the impact of these things and it can be difficult to interact with loved ones in the way you would usually when you’re struggling. Feeling lonely can have a negative impact on your mental health, and young people who are struggling with their mental health also often feel isolated or alone. That is why it’s so important to know that there is someone you can talk to about how you’re feeling. The young people and parents we work with tell us that while it can be hard to talk about things like loneliness, opening up can make a huge difference to their mental health. These messages show anyone can struggle with loneliness and we hope they will get even more people talking.”