Mental health awareness week
By Alex Cole
Today is the end of mental health awareness week in the UK. This year’s theme is kindness and it seems everyone can agree, simple acts of kindness are more important than ever. Right now, society is figuring out how to balance social distancing, careers and health; both mental and physical. Aside from the initial panic that attached itself to COVID-19, it has had an enormous impact on the way we view mental health in times of crisis. More and more people are volunteering to provide food for the vulnerable, contact the elderly, checking on their friends and family members and key workers are risking their health for the protection of others. This surge of consideration, reminds us of the vital importance of kindness.
As a mental health first aider at my place of work, I provided a selection of positive news and stories each day this week to promote awareness for this years theme. From Captain Tom's knighthood to the story of Big Poppa the bulldog (if you don't know Pops, he became a sensation since he can't play with his neighbours, instead he just watches them from his balcony). All these stories remind us of how care and comfort, not only provide us with heart-warming news, but also demonstrates how kindness can go a long way. Captain Tom for instance, raised over £30 million for the NHS and has inspired those with disabilities to complete their own challenges for charity.
Many people are battling with negative mental health due to bereavement, stress, anxiety and uncertainties. Although for the best, events people were excited for this year have been cancelled. Whether concerts or celebrations, all of these long awaited events have been postponed. Even though these appear small issues, it is okay to be disappointed. Let's face it, we're dealing with a history book example right now. People need to remember that your mental health problems are completely valid. If you are experiencing issues, please talk to someone who can provide necessary information and the solution you deserve. These are challenging times, but don't forget, help is always available.
So in these times, don't forget to look after your own health as well as others. Despite these challenges, try to stay relaxed and maintain a routine. From exercising to drinking enough water, remember to take care of yourself. Also, use this time to do things that will spark joy for yourself as well as others. Whether learning a language to cooking healthy meals. Personally, I've spent a lot more time gardening, as I didn't have time before. I also really enjoy baking and can now attempt (seriously, who has all of the countries flour?) to bake all the recipes I've always wanted to try and of course, an endless supply of banana bread.
While everyone is (hopefully) staying at home and taking care of their health and those around them, there are those who are still going to work and volunteering in order to make sure we're safe. The acts of kindness by the public that have been the response to this are astounding. From people sewing protective masks for hospital workers to thank you street parties, these demonstrations powerfully show the impact of consideration. Through understanding, society has been unified and kindness, soaring.
So here's to those who are looking after their friends and family. To the NHS workers. The volunteers. The teachers. Those providing entertainment. The creatives. All the key workers. Thank you and lets keep inspiring positivity.
For now be kind and stay safe.
Here is some useful contact information:
Mental health Foundation: