Mental Health Awareness Week 2020: Why Kindness Matters

19th May 2020 |

This year, the Mental Health Foundation's Mental Health Awareness Week (18 - 24 May 2020) focuses on kindness. In such crazy times given this year’s events, the need to be kind is as important as staying safe. Even the most modest acts of kindness can make a difference. Not only to yourself, but also the people that support you along the way.

There is more to kindness than saying "thank you" to the bus driver or offering to brew up for friends and family.  It is also about being kind to yourself; eating well, having a good night's sleep, or taking your dog for a walk. Did you know that it can make your life less stressful? According to a video from the Mental Health Foundation, "It doesn't take a lot 'cause even the smallest spark can be the thing to light the way when someone's world feels dark."

From the World Health Organization’s own statistics, one in four people around the world are affected by mental health issues and neurological disorders.  Each week, it is estimated that one in six people across the UK have experienced a common mental health problem.

Acts of kindness

Here’s a few acts of kindness you could do that would make you and your friends feel happier:

  1. Adopt a dog or cat: if you have been furloughed, this could be a good time to adopt a furry friend from your local rescue shelter.  Your furlough period could be used to get to know your new friend, whether two months or ten years old.  He or she would love you for it, plus you will enjoy the company and the exercise.
  2. Bake cakes or cookies: nothing brings people together better than home baking.
  3. Help with shopping: if your relatives cannot get food due to the lockdown, offer to do some part of their shopping.
  4. Be polite to shop assistants and bus drivers: with recent events adding to stress levels, saying ‘thank you’ to them could make a difference to their day.
  5. Set up a video call with friends and family: choose a suitable time to speak to a relative or a good friend from your computer, smartphone or tablet.  The feeling of happiness will be mutual.

Be kind, unwind

Kindness is also about self-love, looking after yourself. Anything that can improve your mental health. You could:

  1. Switch off your phone: an hour before you go to bed, turn your phone off and read a book before you sleep.
  2. Learn a new skill: use any spare time to learn a new skill: anything crafty or a new language for example.
  3. Have a long, relaxing bath: if you have a bathtub, make some time for a long, relaxing bath. Before you step in, get some warm towels ready and add some bubble bath.
  4. Plan your dream holiday: if you are learning a language, plan a dream holiday to anywhere you may fancy going to after the lockdown.
  5. Look at your strengths, weaknesses and goals: imagine where you would like to be in, say five years from now. Would you like to be a good cook, play a musical instrument or visit the Scottish Highlands?  At Future Directions, our new starters do something similar which helps with their hopes and dreams. This is called a One Page Profile.

Lighting the way

There is more to good mental health than access to clinical services.  Rethink Mental Illness states that people with severe mental illness issues should be able to thrive as well as survive. The group sees the future of mental health care as being 'community based and locally focused'. This covers Social Connectedness, Physical Health, Housing, Finances and Employment, and Volunteering – as well as access to clinical services.

Future Directions' approach is similar to Rethink Mental Illness' way. Social Connectedness can be seen with our regular competitions which is good for creativity. The people we support is at the heart of everything we do, thanks to being transparent and adaptable.

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