Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

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Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 is a chance for the UK to focus on mental health. Running from 18-24 May 2020, this year's theme is kindness. The focus on kindness is a response to the coronavirus outbreak, which is having a big impact on people's mental health.

Benefits of being kind

Being kind can significantly improve your physical and emotional wellbeing, whether we are giving or receiving it. There have even been scientific studies into the effects of kindness, showing that acts of kindness help your immune system, reduce stress, encourage us to be more active and improve self-esteem! The power of being kind goes even further, it has been proven to promote changes in the brain that are linked with happiness. 

For example, volunteering and helping others is thought to be one of the ways that people create, maintain, and strengthen their social connections. Read our blog post on Volunteering to help during a pandemic here. 

Random Acts Of Kindness 

Have you carried out any acts of kindness recently? Part of being kind is considering the feelings of others. Kindness is  something that needs to benefit both parties. Here are some examples you could do, to  make the world a happier place:

At home and in your community:  

  • Call a somebody who you haven’t spoken to for a while  
  • Post a card or letter to someone you are out of touch with  
  • Send a small gift to a close friend out of the blue  
  • Find out if a neighbour needs any help with shopping  
  • Ring someone who is on their own, or video call  them  
  • Tell your close ones how much you love and appreciate them  
  • Help with household chores  
  • Offer to help an elderly or vulnerable person 
  • Check on someone you know who is going through a tough time  

At work: 

  • Remember to speak to colleagues, whether that’s face-to-face or virtually  
  • Offer to support colleagues who may not be familiar with video conferencing or new software
  • Set up a virtual coffee/lunch club, with new or regular colleagues 
  • Get to know a new member of staff or have a conversation with a colleague  you don’t normally talk to 
  • Listen to your colleague who is having a bad day  
  • Say thank you to a colleague who has helped you  
  • Praise a colleague for something they have done well  

In public places : 

  • Follow the rules on social distancing, but don’t make  negative  assumptions about others  
  • Be a considerate cyclist or driver  
  • Smile and say hello to people you may pass  every day, but have never spoken to before  from an appropriate distance (2 metres or more)  

On social media:  

  • Take time to reach out  online to people you haven’t seen for a while  
  • Write something nice, encouraging or supporting on other peoples pages or posts
  • Think about what you  share, look at the source and tone of the post. If it isn’t kind, think twice. 
  • Think about your comments and replies. Try not to say nasty things! 

Why don’t you try to help others once a day for a week and see if it makes a difference to how you feel? 

Be kind to yourself 

It’s important to be kind  to yourself  as well. Whatever you can manage today is good enough. Some people feel that the lockdown is giving them the time and chance to learn new skills or try new things. That may be  you,  and if so,  enjoy and celebrate that. If  this  isn’t you, try not to  beat yourself up about what you see others doing. If things are hard right now, try and find some small things  to celebrate  each day.

However, it’s important to make sure  you don’t overdo it! If you find you're giving too much of yourself or have gone beyond our means, it’s probably time to take a step back. Kindness has to start with yourself.  

If you feel like you need extra support, reach out to the various charities that are here to help. This includes: Samaritans, NHS 111, Mind, Shout, CALM, Crisis Support For Young People and many more. 

You can also contact us via our website or call line to speak with our Staff or Student Health and Wellbeing First Aiders.