Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week and is an opportunity for all of us to raise awareness of mental health issues and advocate against social stigma.
Kindness is the theme of this year’s campaign: focusing on the power and potential of kindness, particularly now, in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
There is growing recognition that the mental health impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic will be significant for us all – for those with existing mental health conditions and for everyone affected by stress, anxiety, isolation, loneliness, family pressure and financial hardship.
One remarkable thing that the Coronavirus has highlighted is that kindness is prevailing in these uncertain times all over the world: from residents singing on their balconies in Italy, to people clapping in their doorways for the NHS and key workers in the UK.
The Mental Health Foundation’s survey into kindness has found that almost two-thirds of us say that when people are kind to us, it has a positive impact on our mental health. Random acts of kindness such as phoning a friend or thanking a colleague can make all the difference to someone’s day.
Self-kindness is equally important in maintaining healthy, general well-being. Treating yourself to something you enjoy such as watching your favourite film, relaxing with a book, gardening and exercising can have a positive impact on how you feel both emotionally and physically.
Kindness can significantly improve our physical and emotional wellbeing – whether we are giving or receiving it. Scientific research shows that acts of kindness help our immune system, improve our mood, reduce stress, give us energy, slow ageing… and, even better, it’s contagious! One simple act of kindness from one person creates a ripple effect that can improve the day of hundreds and thousands of people.
Taking steps to look after both our own and each other’s mental health is not only crucial now, during lockdown, but as we start to begin to return to normal life – and kindness is key.