Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020. Since 2001, the Mental Health Foundation have campaigned around a specific theme for one week each May raising awareness of topics such as body image, stress and relationships. Mental health problems can affect anyone, at any time and so mental health is everyone’s business.
This year, the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Kindness’.
During these challenging and uncertain times, the positive news that we have seen is always one of kindness. The bravery of our NHS staff and key workers. Captain Tom Moore who walked 100 laps of his garden to raise funds for our NHS. Neighbours getting the shopping for their isolated elderly neighbours. People helping people. The everyday acts of kindness that we are seeing all the time. And we saw this right from the start of the crisis. It is what makes others lives better and makes our lives better.
Kindness can transform our schools, work places, communities, and our society as a whole. As Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation says: “Acts of kindness can help improve emotional wellbeing. This is true whether we are giving or receiving it.” Kindness is clearly good for our mental health – both giving kindness (acts of kindness) and receiving kindness from others. Both can make us feel better.
In yoga, the first of limb of the eight limbs of yoga is called Yama – self-restraints. The first of the five Yama is Ahimsa. Ahimsa means ‘non-violence’ or more simply ‘compassion’ or kindness. Such is the importance that it is the first aspect of the eight limb path of yoga that is discussed. This involves kindness to ourselves and kindness to others. During Mental Health Awareness week let’s think about how we can spread this kindness to ourselves and to others.
How can I get involved?
During Mental Health Awareness Week you can carry out or reflect on an act of kindness. This can be anything – big or small – every act of kindness is important! It may be an act of kindness that you have done or that you have received. And we can learn from one another! You can post about this on social media and may even want to add a photo or video (with permission!) and use the hashtags #KindnessMatters #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. There is no need to stop at one act of kindness either! You can do as many as you would like! However, do remember that we must always be kind to ourselves too – don’t overstretch yourself by giving too much of yourself if you’re not able to, or by going beyond your personal resources. Acts of kindness can of course be to yourself – self-care, recognising what you need in the present moment – be that space, a treat, or just permission to relax.
You can also share on social media your ideas on how you think we could build a kinder society that would support our mental health using the same hashtags #KindnessMatters #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. Let’s start the conversation. We’ve seen how kindness is so important in all our lives, particularly over the past couple of months. How can we take that forward?
What are acts of kindness?
The possibilities are endless, and by sharing our ideas online, we can learn from one another. The Mental Health Foundation shares lots of ideas of acts of kindness that you can do during this week and going forward. You probably do many of these already without even realising how much your act of kindness means! Acts of kindness can be to others and also towards ourselves. Often we find it easier to be kinder to others than ourselves but we must remember that both are important
Some examples include:
Acts of kindness to others:
- Give the gift of yoga with Yogasmiths to a friend for free during Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 – see full details below!
- Call or have a virtual catch-up with a friend or friends – perhaps a friend that you haven’t spoken to for some time
- Tell a family member or friend how much you love them and appreciate them.
- Let someone know how proud you are of them
- Say ‘thank you’ to someone – show them you appreciate them and the work they do.
- Surprise someone you live with to a homemade dinner. Or simply make them a cup of coffee or tea
- Spend time playing with your pet! They’ll show you how much they appreciate it!
- Give or send someone a small gift – something homemade or something you’ve grown is always nice
- Offer support or just check up on your neighbours – many people are self-isolating and may be experiencing loneliness
Acts of kindness to yourself:
- Relax and unwind by giving yourself time to do something that you enjoy – for example reading a book, listening to your favourite music, a warm candle-lit bath, a walk in nature, yoga, exercise, gardening, baking a cake, learning a new skill, etc. What helps you? Could you give yourself some time everyday just for you – be kind to yourself.
- Self-care – look after yourself – perhaps this means having a routine, going to be bed earlier, giving yourself time to cook a healthy meal for yourself, exercise, yoga, mindfulness, etc. Taking time to care for your physical, mental and emotional health
- Connect with others – call a friend or connect online. Join an online class or group.
- And much, much more – you’ll have your own ideas and you can share these online using the hashtags #KindnessMatters #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. The Mental Health Foundation also has lots more ideas in their supporter pack: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/MHAW20-Supporter-Pack_Final.pdf
What are we doing for Mental Health Awareness Week 2020?
Free Yoga classes
During Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 we are inviting anyone who has attended one of our classes to give the gift of yoga to one of their friends who has never been to one of our classes before! All you need to do is send an email to your friend (remember to copy our email into the email: firstname.lastname@example.org) inviting them to attend one of our classes for free! That’s it! Your friend can then contact us and let us know which class they would like to attend. You can copy and paste the template below into your email:
(Title of email – Free Yoga Class! Random Act of Kindness for Mental Health Awareness Week 2020)
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 and the theme is Kindness. As my act of kindness, I would like to offer you to attend a free yoga class with my yoga teachers Yogasmiths before the end of May. The classes are taught via Zoom online video conferencing software.
Yogasmiths are Paul and Stephen Smith and are based in West Kirby, Wirral. To see the weekly Yogasmiths yoga timetable just visit:
And then email Yogasmiths at email@example.com to let them know which class you would like to book on to. They can then send you the details to access your free class!
For more details about Yogasmiths classes just visit http://yogasmiths.org
Thanks and enjoy your free yoga class!
Terms and Conditions – you are only eligible for a free class if you have not attended an indoor Yogasmiths class in the past. One free yoga class per customer. The free class must be used by Sunday 31st May 2020.
Virtual Pub Quiz with Yogasmiths
Saturday 23rd May. All profits from this quiz will be donated to the Mental Health Foundation. You can book on to this quiz at: Charity Virtual Pub Quiz. Cost is £5 per person. If you’ve attended one of our quizzes before you know it’ll be lots of fun and it’s the taking part that counts! It’s just nice to all get together and have some fun.
Daily acts of kindness
We’ll be posting acts of kindness posts daily during Mental Health Awareness week using the hashtags #KindnessMatters and #Mentalhealthawarenessweek. These posts will include acts of kindness we are giving to others, to ourselves and acts of kindness we’ve received. Look out for these and let us know what acts of kindness you have given and received. We’ll also consider how we can all build a kinder society.
What else can I do?
- The Mental Health Foundation movement challenge – full details here: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/events/take-action-get-active-2020
- Hold a virtual quiz with friends or family to raise money for The Mental Health Foundation. All profits from our quiz on Saturday 23rd May 2020 will be donated to the Mental Health Foundation. You can book on to this quiz at:
- And many more ideas available here: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/virtual-fundraising-ideas or you may have one of your own.
If you do hold a fundraising event please let The Mental Health Foundation know about it – including any photos/videos. These can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Fundraising or separate donations can be made to The Mental Health Foundation at http://mentalhealth.org.uk/donate
The Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival has a special programme of online activity running all this May. Artists and audiences will be exploring what kindness means to them. For more information visit: http://mhfestival.com
Spread the word – spread kindness
The Mental Health Foundation has lots of posters, graphics, booklets and more available at http://mentalhealth.org.uk/mhaw
Stay up-to-date with what’s going on during Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond – follow @mentalhealthfoundation on Facebook and Instagram, and @mentalhealth on Twitter.
You can read more about the Mental Health Foundation’s innovative programmes, campaigns and transformative mental health research at: http://mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work
Check out our previous Mental Health Awareness Week blogs;