Mental Health Awareness Week, 18 - 24 May: Kindness

Mental Health Awareness Week, 18 - 24 May: Kindness

19th Tue, May, 2020

It's Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and, given the current worldwide situation, an opportune moment for us to focus on mental health and our own experiences, beliefs and responses.

Stigma around mental illness mainly exists because people don't understand it and often, have negative attitudes or beliefs towards it.  Stigma is reinforced by, for example, the media portraying innaccurate stereotypes about people with a mental illness or sensationalising situations through unnecessary references to mental illness or people just simply using demeaning or negative language.  For these reasons, awareness and greater public knowledge is important both for recognising the indicators of mental illness and then enabling people affected by mental illness to access resources to get the help they need.  Awareness also helps people realise the many ways in which mental illness touches their own lives and how mental wellbeing is a shared responsibility.

Mental illness can manifest itself in the form of many disorders, including mood, anxiety, personality, psychotic, eating, trauma related and substance abuse. 

There are many indicators of mental illness but there are 5 relatively common signs: long-lasting sadness or irritability; extremely high or low moods; excessive fear, worry or anxiety; social withdrawal; dramatic changes in eating and/or sleeping habits.

The Covid19 virus and the consequent lockdown measures continue to have a huge impact on our daily lives: loss of loved ones, financial worries, difficulties balancing home and work, isolation, sadness, loneliness, anxiety, frustration.  For those who already experience mental health problems AND those that may be experiencing mental health problems for the first time, it is vitally important to remember that there is help out there.  Nobody should have to face mental health problems alone.

This article is not a comprehensive guide to mental illness or how to raise awareness but hopefully, in some small way, it does help raise awareness.  Below are some handy hints as to how you may improve yours and others mental wellbeing:

  • check in with others - ask them how they're feeling
  • talk about how you're feeling - this helps you and may also help others to open up
  • be open and honest about mental illness - it's ok not to feel ok
  • connect with family and friends
  • seek/give peer support - send positive texts or other social media messages
  • share your tips for coping
  • keep routines as best you can for eating, sleeping and exercising
  • smile and say hello to strangers
  • be creative
  • don't be too hard on yourself - take it an hour at a time if needed
  • BE KIND to yourself and others!

It is also important that we celebrate the tremendous, often random, acts of kindness that we have seen across the UK during this Covid19 pandemic.  The benefits of acts of kindness are truly amazing and can help relieve the symptoms of mental illness.  Scientific studies show that acts of kindness (giving, receiving or even just observing): 

  • make you feel happy
  • help your immune system
  • reduce stress and anxiety
  • give you energy
  • are good for your heart
  • slow ageing
  • improve relationships, and
  • are contagious!!  

There are many charities in England and Wales that are purposely established to support those with mental health problems and many others that, by the very nature of the work that they do, support beneficiaries and staff/volunteers on their journeys to mental wellbeing.  You can check out all charities in England and Wales at http://charitycommission.gov.uk or search for small, local charities in your area/region via our website http://www.social-responsibility.co.uk Stay safe!

#everymindmatters #kindnessmatters #supportnotstigma