Today we live in a world that is more connected than ever before. We’re able to see and speak to people at a touch of a button, but are we in fact becoming more disconnected as a society?

The 9th-15th May 2022 marks this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week. This annual event in the UK aims to help more people achieve good mental health and to increase awareness of the challenges faced by so many. The Mental Health Foundation has chosen loneliness as its theme for 2022.

The Covid-19 pandemic pushed loneliness into the forefront of our minds. We saw photos in the news or on social media of elderly people in care homes, children away from school, or those living alone being isolated from others. However, loneliness isn’t an issue that solely affects these groups of people. The Mental Health Foundation says, “Loneliness is the feeling we experience when there is a mismatch between the social connections we have and those that we need or want”. According to their research, loneliness tripled the pre-pandemic levels during the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

An inevitable and long-term consequence of this is the increasing pressures on mental health services. This, of course, puts the NHS under strain and highlights the essential role that locums play. Locum and temporary professionals are essential for NHS services to keep up with increased and variable demand. Despite being a key part of the workforce, they can often feel overlooked as part of the team. As a result, we’ve seen that locums can have heightened feelings of loneliness which is something we’ve tried to combat by forming our Advisory Board.


A community for locums

Back in 2020, Athona’s Advisory Board began as we saw how our doctors, nurses and allied health professionals viewed Athona as their professional ally and supporter. We started our first Advisory Board with a group of 15 doctors and psychiatrists, and after the first event in 2020 we’ve since held numerous Advisory Board meetings. A strong community has formed between this group of doctors and it is now a core driver that shapes how we operate. It has become an exclusive and open place for Advisory Board members to offer support to one another and to share advice, insight, and experiences.

Starting this peer group has provided a space for our locum doctors to feel part of a team, which includes key people from Athona as well as other doctors. Our support for our candidates has also widened and we now offer exclusive discounts, closer access to Athona’s Responsible Officer and Associate Director of Quality, and provide CPD accredited webinars covering topics from mental wellbeing to IR35.

We’re excited for the future of Athona’s Advisory Boards and hope to create new communities for nurses and allied health professionals in the future. If you’d like to join the waiting list for Athona’s Advisory Board, send us an email with a bit about yourself and why you’d like to join our community.


Need more support?

Did you know that Athona is currently partnered with Healthcare Workers’ Foundation? The Foundation was started by NHS workers for NHS workers and therefore offers tailored support. Through the Foundation’s online platform, Healthchain, healthcare workers can access counselling services including therapy sessions and access to the British Medical Associations’ Wellbeing Service.

To join Healthchain, simply use your NHS email address. If you don’t have an NHS email, just let us know and we’ll put you in touch.