The 18 – 24 May 2020 is Mental Health Awareness week. This year more than ever it is important to focus on Mental Health, as we adapt to the new normal, living with social distancing due to COVID-19.

What is the focus of the 2020 Mental Health week?

Mental Health Awareness Week is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation and they have this year chosen the theme of Kindness. During this time of COVID-19, we have seen many acts of kindness, including Captain Tom Moore’s walk for the NHS, companies donating PPE, individuals making mask bands and thousands signing up as volunteers to support isolated individuals.

The chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation¸ Mark Rowland explained why they have chosen kindness: "We want to use Mental Health Awareness Week to celebrate the thousands of acts of kindness that are so important to our mental health. And we want to start a discussion on the kind of society we want to shape as we emerge from this pandemic."

The Mental Health foundations' research has found almost two-thirds of us say that when people are kind to them, it has a positive impact on their mental health and almost two-thirds people said when they were kind to others, it had a positive impact on their own mental health.

Importantly it was found that 48% said when we were kind to ourselves, it improved our mental health.

But does kindness matter to our health?

There has been scientific research into the impact into our health, which has found that acts of kindness can reduce our stress, gives us energy, improves our immune system, and helps the heart. It has also been proved to reduce ageing, which is understandable if you are less stressed with an improved immune system.

How are the different organisations encouraging us to get involved and be kind?

We all have friends, family, and people around us that can benefit from acts of kindness and do not have to look to organisations for inspiration. We can pick up the phone to an elderly relative we have not spoken to recently, organise a group video call with friends, make our parents breakfast in bed…. The list goes on and we all have our individual’s ways to bring acts of kindness to people we know.

But each of the mental health organisations has resources available to help promote Mental Health week on social media, to raise funds for good causes or activities you can carry out.

Mental Health Foundation

© Mental Health Foundation

The Mental Health Foundation has a wide range of resources available, including:

The following link provides a PDF from the Mental Health Foundation all about Mental Health Week and things you can do during the week.

Visit their website and information

Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival

The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival is Scotland most diverse cultural event challenging the preconceived ideas about mental health. During May, they will have a special program of online activity where artists and audiences will explore the ideas of kindness. Activity will include:

  • Live-streamed events
  • Film screenings
  • Artist commissions

Visit their website and information

Mind

© Mind

Mind are encouraging people to Speak Your Mind. As we go through lockdown, Mind is aware we are all dealing with its impact and that we all reaching out to friends to break down social distancing. #SpeakYourMind is aimed at getting us talking, showing we are not alone in how we feel and encouraging us to share with each other our different methods for coping. Mind has a range of resources available to help promote mental health week, as well as images you can adapt with wording to Speak Your Mind.

Mind also has a challenge to encourage people to join their Tik Tok challenge to send a message of kindness to someone.

Visit their website and information

ITV

ITV has commissioned polls, which have shown 44% of us are more concerned about our mental health at this time, but positively, 60% of us are talking more often to our family and friends by phone since lockdown.

Linked with the positive stat, ITV is continuing with their theme of ‘Britain Get Talking’, with support from charities Mind and YoungMinds, along with several celebrities. They aim to keep us connected by getting in touch with friends we have lost contact with and family members we have not spoken to in a long time. Their website has a quiz you can undertake that will provide tips and advice on what you can do to support your mental health during the lockdown. Take a look at the quiz here.

Visit their website and information

BBC Bitesize

The BBC Bitesize website has a good video detailing inspirational acts of kindness young people have carried out during this time, along with suggestions of what young people can do to manage their mental health.

Visit their website and information

Further help

Samaritans: Call free on 116 123 or visit the website

NHS 111: Non-emergency advice is available online (Only call 111 if you cannot get help online). People with hearing problems can use the NHS 111 British Sign Language (BSL) service.

MIND: Call 0300 123 3393 or find tips and support on its website. Coronavirus and your wellbeing | Mind, the mental health...

Sources

Mental Health Foundation

Mind

BBC

ITV

BBC – Bitsize