What is Mental Health Awareness Week?
Mental health awareness week is run by the Mental Health Foundation and runs from the 18th to 24th May 2020 with the theme this year being kindness.
The aim is to raise awareness and to promote good mental health for all as well as raise money for the Mental Health Foundation, a charity that relies on donations to continue their work. They have some brilliant ideas for virtual fundraisers due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation this year.
- Community and peer programmes; ensuring the best programs are being used in the community.
- Research; publish studies and reports on what protects mental health , the causes of poor mental health and how to tackle them.
- Public engagement; give advice to millions of people on mental health including running the Mental Health Awareness Week across the UK each year.
- Advocacy; propose solutions and head campaigns to address the underlying causes of poor mental health.
So why kindness?
In the simplest possible terms: It makes us feel better.
How many times has your day been made by someone/ bringing you your favourite snack unprompted, or by the stranger that held a door open while you were juggling shopping, car keys and change? Experiencing random acts of kindness can make us feel more connected to the community, more noticed, important and cared for.
There are benefits to performing acts of kindness too. In a study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that altruistic acts, such as those seen in Pay It Forward schemes, boost both the mood of the giver and the receiver. We all get a good feeling when we help someone out, especially if it is well received.
Kindness is also an act of courage, it requires you to be brave enough to face the potential for humiliation, rejection and being taken advantage of. I am sure we can all think of a time where we could have been kind but weren’t. Maybe at school when you didn’t help someone stand up to a bully because you were afraid of becoming the target? Or you didn’t get a friend that gift because you worried your actions would be misinterpreted. By taking action to be kinder to others we can improve our self worth and build courage and emotional resilience.
Benefits of a kinder society
Firstly (and maybe a little selfishly), being kind and doing good deeds for others has a longer lasting positive impact on your mental health than self care or personal rewards do.
…we found that the 2 types of prosocial behavior led to greater increases in psychological flourishing than did self-focused and neutral behavior.
With the gap between rich and poor growing ever wider, and incidents of poor mental health cases rising in communities with lower income, it is clear that we need to work together to reduce the disadvantages faced by those in more at risk communities.
The small acts of kindness being encouraged during Mental Health Awareness Week is just one way to help bring humanity together, especially in the light of the current pandemic and the wider impact this is having on mental health.
If we all focus more on outreach and less on personal satisfaction then hopefully those at the edges of society will be bought back in.
How can you get involved?
Firstly visit the “get involved page” of The Mental Health Foundation. there they have a download pack, social media details and even a funky gif to spice up your posts, help spread awareness of the week!
I am also going to set myself a goal of doing 1 random act of kindness a day for the duration, which I will share on my own social media (links below if you want to follow!). Feel free to join in and spread some love and positivity this week!
These acts could be as small as sending a funny image to someone who is struggling or as large as you can go. The act itself is the most important part.
Lastly consider donating or running a fundraiser to help keep the work of the Mental Health Foundation going. Or if you have another charity that really floats your boat then fund raise for them instead! The key is kindness 🙂