Mental Health Awareness Week 18-24 May 2020

Kindness matters for Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May) is the UK’s national week, led by the Mental Health Foundation, to raise awareness of mental health and inspire action to promote the message of good mental health for all.

This year’s theme is the power and potential of kindness. One thing that we have seen all over the world during the coronavirus pandemic is that kindness is prevailing in these uncertain times.

We have learnt that amid the fear, there is also community, support and hope especially for the more vulnerable in our society.

Kindness and mental health  

Kindness is defined by doing something towards yourself and others, motivated by a genuine desire to make a positive difference.  Research shows that kindness and our mental health are deeply connected. It is an antidote to isolation and creates a sense of belonging. It helps reduce stress, brings a fresh perspective and deepens relationships. Kindness to ourselves helps boost our self-esteem.  Kindness can even improve feelings of confidence and optimism.

Kindness matters

Mental Health Foundation 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.

During Mental Health Awareness Week, the Mental Health Foundation will release new data to reveal how many of us experience kindness in the UK and a summary of the latest evidence about its important mental health benefits.

Reflecting on acts of kindness at our NHS Trust

We have experienced many acts of kindness from our community which have really made a difference – the weekly #ClapForCarers event showing health and care staff how much they are appreciated at this time. Volunteers have come forward to help with the care effort – even colleagues coming out of retirement to help.

We have been touched by donations of food and clothing to our vulnerable service users to help keep their spirits up. Here’s a resident in our Supported Living Service modelling some donated clothing.

Our new Letters to Loved Ones scheme is helping service users stay connected to their loved ones and we’ve been impressed by the Occupational Therapist’s fantastic idea of the Ward Olympics – getting inpatients involved in a little healthy competition with activities and challenges to keep them active and feeling positive.

This has been an especially difficult time for some of our most isolated inpatients as visiting has been suspended, so these kind gestures and ideas have been especially appreciated and are helping people come together and feel better during this unprecedented time.

Organisations have reached out to us with regular donations of food for staff to keep them feeling looked after on-shift. Staff at our Rehabilitation and Recovery Centre said: “With everything that is going on knowing that people are thinking of us, and appreciating our work, it makes it all a bit easier. We have had curry, chocolate, crisps, noodles, all sorts – it really puts a smile on your face.”

Balvinder Dosanjh, Clinical Engagement, Access and Inclusion Co-ordinator at the Trust, had the idea of creating a dedicated coronavirus rest room for staff at the Perinatal Unit at Parkside Lodge where they can relax and recharge: “I was trying to help improve team morale and spirits during these difficult times by creating a safe, therapeutic, calming environment for staff to access when they were feeling upset or struggling to deal with their emotions.”

Balvinder was overwhelmed with offers of help and donations from the local community. The rest room has made a big difference to staff, here’s one comment: “It was a relief to have somewhere to go for 5 minutes to gather myself. It was really nice to leave a message in the little book to let other staff know we are thinking of them.”

Read more about the rest room project which is now being introduced at some of our other units.

We are all so grateful to every single business and individual who has thought of us – there really are too many to mention here but we have sent individual thank you notes to everyone.

One last example of where we have felt inspired. We’ve been totally overwhelmed with the support shown by all the ‘Thank You NHS’ rainbow imagery in our local communities.

During Mental Health Awareness Week we will be reaching out to children of our staff with an appreciation letter thanking them for the support they give to their loved ones and asking them to send a rainbow drawing to decorate our own wards.

We know that one act of kindness can lead to many more. This is the type of community action that we would all like to inspire. It’s reassuring to know that when communities work together, as we have seen during this pandemic, then nobody need feel alone.

No act of kindness is ever wasted. Please join us this Mental Health Awareness Week and make kindness matter now and in the future.

During Mental Health Awareness Week, we are asking you to do three things:  

  • Reflect on an act of kindness. Share your stories and pictures (with permission) of kindness during the week using the hashtags #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
  • Use resources in your family, school, workplace and community to join with thousands in practising acts of kindness to yourself and others during the week
  • Share your ideas on how you think we could build a kinder society that would support our mental health using #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

Help to support your mental health and wellbeing in Leeds and York

For more advice and information put together by our team of experts about how to look after your wellbeing visit our website

There are helpful resources for our service users, carers and the general public on this web page and we actively encourage people to dip in for self-care tips and also information about how to get more in-depth support if needed.