The previous edition of Homemade Health addressed the adverse effects of loneliness on individuals, homes, and communities.
Feelings of isolation and loneliness often underlie depression, aggression, addiction, and suicidal ideation.
Individuals battling the emotional experiences associated with loneliness often hide these feelings, which exacerbate the emotions.  
What can you do as a member of your community to create a supportive and safe environment for people experiencing emotional distress?
If you are suffering from depression and loneliness, how can you mobilize your community membership to help you cope or overcome these feelings?
Here are some ideas to explore:
Volunteer for local causes. Inquire with local churches, schools, and non-profits about their needs for volunteers. Public service is an excellent way to connect with other people, to develop a sense of purpose and belonging, and to broaden perspectives about personal situations and the needs facing fellow community members.
Join an interest-based online community. Social media offers a variety of ways to connect with people from all over the world. Consider some of your great interests or hobbies, and search social media to find groups who share and interact (and possibly meet in-person) about these interests.
Create safe space for yourself and others at work or school. Organize a meeting at your place of employment or study with fellow employees/students. Inform them of the issues facing your community related to mental and emotional well-being (several suicides in recent years, poor physical health, high rates of drug-use, etc).
Develop a plan for creating a safe space for each other to share feelings. Develop a buddy system so that all fellow employees/students are invited to confide in someone at work/school with whom they feel comfortable sharing.
There are some very important guidelines for supporting someone battling an emotional challenge:
First, LISTEN UP. Hear the person out. Allow them to express their unique feelings. Do not try to fix, change, or invalidate those feelings.
Everyone is unique and deserves to feel the way they feel (even if it does not make sense in your mind – feelings are feelings and they cannot be changed by someone else’s thoughts. They can only be changed through personal expression, processing, and release).
When we try to fix others’ problems, or tell people how they should or should not feel, we create a sense of judgment around the situation. This causes the afflicted to feel even more isolated.
Sometimes the best medicine is just being heard. This lets the aggrieved know that their feelings and voice are important.
Expression also allows them to release some of the heaviness surrounding the emotion which (in many cases) empowers them to process it and to eventually release it.
OBSERVE CONFIDENTIALITY. Safe space for expression must be a confidential space. Otherwise, sharing can do more harm than good.
Judgment and gossip cause an emotional burn that seeds deep within the core of a person and intensifies feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Do not allow yourself to engage in the self-centered acts of judgment and gossip because they cause great harm to others.
Sometimes being judged or gossiped about cause people to harm themselves and others.
Do not be a part of the problem. Be a part of the solution by being a part of community support for EVERYONE!
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline phone number is 1-800-273-8255.