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Kindness: The Theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 

Equality - 20 May 2020

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 When you are struggling with your mental health the world can seem a very grey, bleak place and a simple act of kindness from someone can make a profound difference.  

I have had depressive episodes and social anxiety for at least 23 years now (half my life- oops now I’ve given my age away!!). Although I clearly remember the dark cloud that overcomes me in these times and is always a constant fear in the back of my mind with terror of it returning, it is the acts of kindness that people have done for me that really stick at the front of my memory.  

  • The flowers with a card that read, ‘When the world seems grey, I am sending you a burst of colour to remind you it is there and you will see it again’,  

  • The sandwich a colleague made me on return to work, after a long period of absence due to stress and anxiety, that meant I didn’t have to go to the hospital canteen for lunch but could sit quietly in a safe area.  

  • The fact a colleague now at big events always finds a space at a table for me and then texts to say there is a place in that room where I am supported and can sit with those who understand me.  

It is these things that I remember.  

 

Covid-19 has been horrendous... but if the return is an outpouring of kindness and creating nicer human beings, we have something that will help us through our new normal.  

The dictionary definition of kindness is ‘the quality of being generous, helpful and caring about other people or an act showing this’ and often we perform these acts without even consciously thinking about it. Indeed for many people it is just how they are, kind is one of the most beautiful ways you could describe a fellow human being but every one of the ‘kind’ acts you perform be it consciously or subconsciously has the power to transform someone’s life.  

Our new ‘normal’ of lockdown and limited interaction with our fellow human beings has perhaps made us even more conscious of these acts of kindness. Humans are social animals in the main and the lack of ability to interact has allowed people to instead perform acts of kindness that they perhaps wouldn’t usually do. How many people who put notes on the bins to say thankyou to the refuse collectors would normally do so, or talk to their neighbours and check they are okay when they have never even exchanged names before?  

Covid-19 has been horrendous, it’s destroyed families and communities and it’s negatives outweigh any positives but if the return is an outpouring of kindness and creating nicer human beings, we have something that will help us through our new normal.  

Lou Foster-Wilson

Regional Equality Officer, Yorkshire & North Derbyshire Region

 
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