Mental Health Awareness Week - Tom Folley:
This year’s Mental Awareness Week is more important than usual.
The threat of Covid-19 has forced us all to be more distant, physically, from each other. Most of us have changed the way we work, rest and play, and we are facing different pressures in our daily lives.
The very real stresses of frontline health and care workers are only too apparent, but everyone who follows government distancing guidelines is dealing with a situation that can exacerbate anxiety. Whether we are on our own or with family, with school-age children, or elderly or sick relatives, we are managing our everyday concerns with a heightened sense of alert. We hear a lot about underlying health conditions – and this applies to mental wellbeing as much as physical health.
Every year, the Mental Health Foundation picks upon a theme to accent during Mental Health Week. This year’s theme is kindness. It’s the perfect choice, it’s exactly what we need to bring into our lives during these uncertain times.
Kindness is one of the most vital, positive, strengthening traits that we have. It’s an act that works in two directions at once: it helps the person in need, and at the same time makes the person being kind feel more positive about themselves.
Being kind isn’t difficult, it doesn’t have to involve much hard work – it just takes a bit of thoughtfulness. And, amongst the sadness and the statistics that have been filling our news reports, it is stories of kindness that has lifted the mood of the country.
One of the amazing things about our experience of Covid-19, of lockdown, of social distancing, is the growth of small acts of kindness that so many of us are witnessing in our communities: from friendly neighbours and WhatsApp street groups; to ordinary people around the country who are making life a bit easier for someone else, our spirits are lifted by tales of one person helping another.
And we can be kind to ourselves, too, give ourselves time during the day to sit or walk, or think, or talk with friends. And if by doing this, we feel more positive about ourselves, we are able to be kinder to others.
In these strange times, we have learnt the truth of the adage: it’s the little things that count. It’s kindness that can help us deal with the current situation, will help us to recover from it, and will ensure that the society that grows out of the pandemic is a more caring, thoughtful one.
We may be socially distant, but we can still be emotionally close.
So make a difference: be kind.
See more information on Mental Health Awareness Week