Life lines: Loss, loneliness and expanding meshworks with an urban Walk and Talk group

Muir, Jessica and McGrath, Laura (2018). Life lines: Loss, loneliness and expanding meshworks with an urban Walk and Talk group. Health & Place, 53 pp. 164–172.



There is ample evidence that loneliness and social isolation are important in the development of distress, and harmful to recovery. UK mental health services, however, have been moving away from interventions which prioritise relationality, and towards professionally-led, individualised treatments. In addition, those experiencing distress experience multiple spatial exclusions which can compound isolation and loneliness. This paper examines the role of an urban Walk and Talk group in the lives of long term mental health service users. Using an ecological frame, Ingold's concept of 'meshwork' is used to explore the complex of social, personal and spatial relationships which contribute to participants' experiences of everyday living. Four themes are explored: Fading lines: Fossilised meshworks of loneliness and loss; Therapeutic nodes: Atomised sanctuary and respite in everyday space; Reciprocity and authenticity: Strengthening relational meshworks; and Remaking everyday spaces: Revitalising meshworks through collectivity. The findings are discussed in light of the literature on loneliness, relationships and mental health interventions.

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