• Deborah Petrou

Kindness - Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

Mental Health Awareness Week is the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health, mental health problems and inspire action to promote the message of good mental health for all. Mental Health Awareness Week has been run by the Mental Health Foundation since 2001.

They organise fundraising to prevent mental health problems. The theme this year is Kindness.

That got me thinking about the definition of Kindness. Kindness (noun) is: the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. For example: "he thanked them for their kindness". What is it about kindness that tends to make us think only of others? Many of us would have been brought up to believe that kindness is something we do to - or for - someone else.

There have been many examples of kindness especially in the last few weeks of the global pandemic; people looking out for neighbours, looking after the elderly and the vulnerable. Making sure they have enough food, collecting prescriptions etc. Phoning people to combat loneliness. Arranging virtual social events to include everyone. It's kind to do these things for others right?

I've been speaking to friends and family recently and the consensus is that kindness is something we do for others. Here's where many of us come up short. Are we showing ourselves enough kindness? Here are some of the responses I've heard:

  • "Kind to myself? Well, I do my nails once a fortnight, isn't that enough?"

  • "Erm, not sure. Wouldn't it be selfish?"

  • "What do you mean kind to myself? How would I even do that?!"

I believe that showing kindness to oneself isn't just a nice to have, it's essential. You know the old saying? 'do unto others...'. Showing kindness and compassion to others comes naturally to many people - we've seen so much of it recently - but it doesn't always come naturally when it comes to showing ourselves the same kindness and compassion. Wouldn't it be great if we looked after ourselves so well that we avoided the sense of overwhelm?

Kindness, compassion, self-care - it all comes under the same umbrella and is vital to our good mental health. If we feel fine - great. If we don't - and let's face it, there have been more downs than ups for most of us recently - that's fine too. Being kind doesn't mean that we have to always give, be endlessly polite, pretend all is well when it isn't.

Now that many of us are living in a more virtual life, I thought it might be worth highlighting some organisations that can help. Whether you are stressed, anxious or depressed due to recent events or whether you are stressed, anxious, or depressed for other reasons, you don't have to pretend to be fine. It's OK to feel whatever it is you need to feel.

If you think that you would benefit from talking to a professional, feel free to contact me.

For now, why not take a look below to see what's out there? This isn't a definitive list, just a taster of some organisations offering support.

MIND - provide great general advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They also campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.

Grief Encounter - provide Child Bereavement Support for bereaved children and their families to help alleviate the pain caused by the death of someone close. They run Grief Talk for children and adults who have experienced the death of a loved one. They also offer advice to caregivers and schools on how to support young people following the death of a parent or sibling. The service is available from Monday to Friday 09.00-21.00.

Call 0808 802 0111

Cruse Bereavement Care - Charity for bereaved people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

YoungMinds - provide toolkits, publications, reports and policy information about child and teen mental health.

The Samaritans - Provide confidential support via a 24/7 helpline.

Frank - Support and advice on drink and drugs.

Frazzled Cafe - is a registered charity that operates with the purpose of providing a safe, confidential and non-judgmental environment where people who are feeling frazzled and overwhelmed by the stresses of modern life can meet on a regular basis to talk and share their personal stories. They are currently facilitating online meetings.

Remember that we are living in times of unprecedented stress and uncertainty. Please take care out there. Be kind - to yourselves and others. Show yourself the same compassion, warmth and understanding you would show to anyone else. You are worth it.

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