This week (18-24 May) is Mental Health Awareness Week, and its theme of kindness aims to highlight the benefits of helping others to improve mental health and wellbeing and reduce stress during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.
A recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) found that 72% of UK adults say it is important we learn to be a kinder society. Almost two thirds (63%) say that when people are kind to them, it has a positive impact on their mental health and the same number say that being kind to others has a positive impact on their mental health.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MHF – which organises the event each year – switched the theme from sleep to kindness. ‘Now more than ever, we need to rediscover kindness in our daily lives,’ said Mark Rowland, MHF’s chief executive. ‘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.’
Since the first Mental Health Awareness Week in 2001, the Foundation has raised awareness of topics such as body image, stress and relationships.
Over the years, hundreds of schools, businesses and communities have started conversations around mental health and millions of people are more aware through the campaign every year.
‘Protecting our mental health is going to be central to us coping with and recovering from the coronavirus pandemic,’ added Mark, ‘with the psychological and social impacts likely to outlast the physical symptoms of the virus’.
IOSH chief executive Bev Messinger agreed: ‘We believe it is essential to protect workers’ physical and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Healthcare workers and others on the frontline must have adequate mental health support and return-to-work processes throughout these challenging times.