This week (18-24 May) is the Mental Health Foundation’s ‘Mental Health Awareness Week 2020’, with the theme of ‘kindness’, which is particularly relevant during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Nancy Kuchemann, clinical lead for mental health for NHS South East London CCG said: “Emotional wellbeing – or lack of it – is something that is important to each and every one of us. And over the past few weeks, it’s become more relevant than ever.
“That’s why we’re very happy to give our support to Mental Health Awareness Week in 2020, with its emphasis on kindness, and how important it is in supporting our mental health.”
Kindness is defined by doing something towards yourself and others, motivated by genuine desire to make a positive difference. Research has indicated that kindness and our mental health are deeply connected.
The research shows that kindness is an antidote to isolation and creates a sense of belonging. It helps reduce stress, brings a fresh perspective and deepens friendships. Kindness to ourselves can prevent shame from corroding our sense of identity and help boost our self-esteem. Kindness can even improve feelings of confidence and optimism.
Dr Kuchemann added: “Good mental health helps us to realise our potential, cope with life’s ups and downs and play an active part in family, workplace, community and with friends.
“But as the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us, mental health isn’t fixed. It can change because of ongoing stress and life circumstances. Sometimes our mental health can decline slowly and almost imperceptibly, with others seeing a change in our behaviour before we do.
“That’s why it’s so important to be aware of our mental health, and think about what we can do to build resilience and look at self-help techniques.”
Kindness is a keystone of the 5 steps to mental wellbeing, as recommended by the NHS for tackling anxiety and depression.
The importance of kindness is also covered in the Good Thinking website, which provides digital mental wellbeing support for people in London. This includes free NHS-approved apps to help you deal with stress, anxiety, low mood and poor sleep. The site regularly adds new resources relating to the coronavirus.
Young people aged 11 – 19 years across south east London (Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham, Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich) are able to access confidential and free, digital mental health support service complementing existing mental health provision.
XenZone’s online counselling and emotional wellbeing service, Kooth, can also help those up to the age of 25 with a focus on those who may be particularly vulnerable to common mental health problems.