Mental Health Awareness Week is a national campaign running from 18th-24th May aiming to promote discussion and awareness of mental health issues.
Created by the Mental Health Foundation in 2001, Mental Health Awareness Week campaigns around a certain theme each year, in previous years they have raised awareness of topics like body image, stress and relationships.
This years theme is Kindness, all throughout this week the campaign will be promoting ways people can be more kind to others and the difference it can make to someones mental wellbeing.
Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, explains in an article on the foundation’s website, why Kindness was chosen for this year’s theme:
“We have chosen kindness because of its singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health.”
Mark believes this could be the most important Mental Health Awareness week because of the impact of being isolated can have on people’s mental wellbeing:
“We think it could be the most important week we’ve hosted, not least because our own research shows that protecting our mental health is going to be central to us coping with and recovering from the coronavirus pandemic – with the psychological and social impacts likely to outlast the physical symptoms of the virus.”
The Mental Health Foundation has outlined different ways people can get involved and promote the theme of kindness:
The foundation is encouraging people to carry out or reflect on an act of kindness and tell your story online, the aim is to get the nation talking about kindness and mental health.
Use the hashtags #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek when sharing your story. They also encourage people to “share your ideas on how you think we could build a kinder society that would support our mental health.”
This is outlining the importance of checking up on our friends and family and how you can use technology to do this. People are encouraged to do that bit extra than usual for your loved ones i.e. tell someone you know why you are thankful for them or why you are proud of them.
Using technology such as video calling is promoted such as arranging to have a cup of tea and virtual catch up or watching a film at the same time as a friend whilst video calling.
This section is about how doing something nice for someone at home or at work can make a big difference for them. Something as simple helping with a household chore without being asked to can help at home or praising a collegue for something they have done well at work.
If you working from at home, arrange to have a video lunch with a colleague and ask how they’re finding the change in routine.
This is about you can make a difference in your local community. This could be as simple as reaching out to your neighbours to check up on them or offering them support if they are vunrable.
Another way the foundation lists as a way to support your community is donating to a foodbank, many Preston food banks are busier than ever and need support. You could donate goods to The Salvation Army on Harrington Street and The Foxton Centre welcomes more volunteer help.
Lancashire County Council is getting involved with Mental Health Awareness Week. They are encouraging people to send a card to a local care home to brighten the residents and staffs day.
The Mental Health Foundation also have a movement challenge where they encourage people to be active for 30 mintues a day all throughout May.
This doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous, talking a long walk and getting some fresh air is listed as a great way to be active and when you have picturesque places like Avenham and Miller parks or Brockholes Nature Reserve in Preston, it is a great way to clear your mind.
For any more information about Mental Health Awareness Week, you can check the Mental Health Foundations website here.