Hafal Week 2006: ‘Loneliness Bus’ travels through Wales to gather evidence

During Hafal Week 2006 (June 26th-28th) Hafal’s ‘Loneliness Bus’ will be travelling through every part of Wales to hear from people with severe mental illness and their carers about their experiences of loneliness and mental health services in their area. The Bus will set out from Wrexham on Monday 26th and work its way via Colwyn Bay, Porthmadog, Aberystwyth, Tenby, Ammanford, Swansea and the Valleys before delivering its message at the Senedd on Wednesday 28th.

The fact-finding journey follows a survey carried out in the last two months that was completed by over 450 participants from all 22 counties of Wales, including 294 patients and 106 carers. The survey found that:

• Half of people with a severe mental illness had been lonely within the last month
• 7 in 10 people say that loneliness makes symptoms of mental illness a great deal worse
• Loneliness makes symptoms such as depression, delusions and paranoia worse
• As well as living alone and lack of social contact, employment is a significant factor in loneliness.

Bill Walden-Jones, Chief Executive of Hafal, stated: “Hafal is fighting to tackle the loneliness felt by many people with severe mental illness across Wales – both in rural and urban areas. We are pledged to provide support through “Hafal’s Promise” – a quality standard to provide friendly contact to all people with severe mental illness in Wales who request it.

“Our aim this week is to stress to the Assembly Government the importance of meeting targets laid out in the Adult Mental Health Services National Service Framework. The loneliness felt by people with severe mental illness is a result of the inadequacy of mental health services across Wales. It is essential that the National Service Framework is implemented according to the Assembly Government’s timetable if fewer people with severe mental illness are to be subject to loneliness in the future, and it is urgent that issues such as barriers to employment and lack of social contact are addressed.”