As Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 comes to a close, we asked our Central Operations Manager, David Bryson-Sharples, to explore our role as a manager of rental communities in tackling loneliness, the issue spotlighted by MHAW this year, within our resident populations. David is a qualified Mental Health First Aider and is a passionate advocate for mental health. Here are his super seven tips for how operators and managers of residential communities can make a difference on the ground to combat loneliness.
- Build relationships with residents and keep vigilant. Say hello, pass the time of day and overall be empathetic and cordial. It’s a very fine line between keeping aware and being intrusive, so care should always be taken to maintain professionalism, but this doesn’t mean you have to be cold!
- Curate and deliver meet-up and interest groups amongst residents. Give them the tools to get together and platform to communicate, but allow them to form their own groups and gravitate around shared passions organically
- Shape community engagement programmes from resident feedback. It’s important to allow residents to have a voice in how their community is managed, so listen to them and give them what they want
- Design of communal and amenity spaces is critical, and this is what BTR and co-living developers are generally great at. In tandem, getting the most out of them by correctly budgeting for events and engagement is also key
- Well thought-out cultural and community programming that raises awareness of, supports and educates residents on mental health and wellbeing issues will enable better usage of common spaces and get residents mixing whilst enhancing their understanding of themselves and those around them
- Strike partnerships with local or national organisations and resources that can support with mental health guidance and awareness and signpost residents to these. As an operator, it is important to understand where your remit starts and stops; mental health issues can be complex to navigate and it’s important to give residents access to genuine expertise and specialist support if and when it is needed
- Provide training for all on-site teams on how to potentially identify when people may be having problems and to point residents in the right direction of those that are qualified to help