Organised by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week aims to get us all talking about mental health – and to access support if you need it.

This year the theme is kindness. It’s now more important than ever to look after mental health, and help struggling friends, family and colleagues. Protecting mental health is going to be central to us coping with and recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

Mental health can affect anyone. Talking about and raising awareness of mental health issues and support available is everyone’s business.

Kindness is already overflowing at this time. We have seen it in the many donations we continue to receive at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, the kindness of all of our staff towards each other and every patient, and the mutual aid groups responding to local and national needs. We want that kindness to spread further across Cumbria.

Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. People who are kind and compassionate also see clear benefits to their wellbeing and happiness. They may even live longer. It can also help reduce stress and improve emotional wellbeing.

We all have so much going on, which can see kindness pushed to one side. If we take the time to be kind to others, we can reap the emotional dividends. It can really make a difference - especially for those who are vulnerable or struggling.  

There are still lots of ways for you to get involved and spread some kindness for Mental Health Awareness Week. Not just to others, be kind to yourself too. Why don’t you get involved with random acts of kindness. Kindness can create positive change to support your mental health and the mental health of others. You could:

1. Contact struggling friends

2. Tell someone you’re proud of them

3. Be kind to yourself by taking some time out

4. Arrange to watch a film at the same time as a friend and video call

5. Send a joke

6. Tell a family member how much you love them

7. Contact someone you haven’t heard from in a while

8. Send a photo to your family to show what you have been up to

9. Think of something you can do to improve your wellbeing

10. Check in safely with a neighbour who is isolated or shielding.