Health bosses in Walsall are supporting Mental Health Awareness Week and appealing to local residents to do the same by encouraging conversations on mental health and kindness.
Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 18 to 24 May, is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation and highlights the need for us all to look after our minds as well as our bodies. The aim of the week is to raise public awareness of mental health in general, mental health problems and to promote good mental health for all.
Mark Axcell, Chief Executive at Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Looking after our mental health has never been more important. The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures have been very challenging for us all and, in many cases, people’s mental health will have been affected in various ways.
“Many people will be feeling lonely, isolated, stressed and anxious during this difficult period – so we must do all we can to look after each other and support one another’s mental wellbeing.”
This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme is kindness because research shows that kindness and our mental health are deeply connected. Research compiled by the Mental Health Foundation shows that kindness is an antidote to isolation and creates a sense of belonging. It helps reduce stress, brings a fresh perspective and deepens friendships. Kindness to ourselves can prevent shame from corroding our sense of identity and help boost our self-esteem. Kindness can even improve feelings of confidence and optimism.
Dr Anand Rischie, local GP and Chair of NHS Walsall Clinical Commissioning Group said: “I’ve been so proud to see many of our residents in Walsall volunteering to help vulnerable groups in our community during the lockdown. Acts of kindness mean so much – such as doing shopping for others, collecting and dropping off medications, and phoning to see if they are okay. We all need to be spreading kindness more than ever to protect our mental health.”
Acts of kindness that you can try to carry out during the week, and afterwards, include:
Dr Rischie added, “Physical health and mental wellbeing are linked and being active is a brilliant way to be kind to your mind, so you can also take part in the campaign’s challenge to get active for 30 minutes a day. If you look after yourself physically, you will be in a better mental position to look out for the wellbeing of others and those you love.
“Kindness can help transform our schools, places of work, communities and families. Join in with Mental Health Awareness Week and let’s work together to help create a society that promotes good mental health for all of us. Be kind to others but also take time to be kind to yourself.”