Every May we in the United Kingdom celebrate and observe Mental Health Awareness Week. It is a chance to raise awareness of mental health problems and the importance of taking care of ourselves. It is an opportunity to inspire action, share experiences, and end the stigma that still surrounds mental health.
This year’s theme is kindness. Being kind to ourselves, being kind to others and being kind to our communities and planet.
In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, last week we asked our Instagram followers to share with us how they are practising kindness during lockdown, here are some of their responses, and some tips if you want to do similar things.
Giving food and blankets to homeless people
Understandably the current situation with COVID-19 is difficult and stressful for everyone. We miss normality, our family, our friends, travelling, getting haircuts etc. However this situation is also incredibly stressful for some of our more vulnerable members of society, particularly the homeless. If you feel that you would like to, or are in a position where you are able to, donate food and blankets in your local communities, that can be a great way of spreading kindness. Likewise, if donating money is something that you are able or would like to do, take a look at the following charities who are working hard in Bristol, in the UK and internationally.
Caring in Bristol – Caring in Bristol work in imaginative and creative ways with people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, with the public and community partners to bring about lasting change in Bristol and beyond.
Shelter UK – Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness through our advice, support and legal services.
Habitat for Humanity – As an international charity fighting world poverty and homelessness, Habitat’s vision is a world where everyone has a safe place to call home. They believe that a decent home helps to permanently break the cycle of poverty and allows families to achieve strength, stability, and self-reliance.
Also there are a bunch of really cool comedy shows and online quizzes that donate a portion of your ‘e-ticket’ to charity.
Cooking meals and snacks for loved ones and key workers
If you enjoy cooking, are trying to cook more during lockdown, or simply are bored of takeaways, the making and sharing of food is a great way to show kindness to yourself and others.
Jack Monroe has a range of recipes on their website that can cater (pun intended) to those of us who may be on tight budgets, lack time or only have access to a microwave, whether you are a meat eater, vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free. Visit their website and see what you can cook.
Check out our previous blog post where second year History student Elaura shares her yummy ginger biscuit recipe.
The BBC Good Food website also has a section specifically designed for students, the meals are quick and cheap to make, and definitely worth a try.
Making an effort to talk to everyone
Having a quick (distanced) chat or even a “good morning!” with someone you pass in the street, park or shop can really brighten up your or their day. Of course, conversations with a stranger can’t replace the face to face contact with friends and family but it could make you feel a bit better and decrease loneliness slightly.
In the UK, we celebrate once a week with a “clap for carers“. People go to their front doors and clap in the street for a minute to show their appreciation for carers during this time. If you take part in this or there is something similar taking place in your home country, why not speak to your neighbours after and see how they are doing.
If there are elderly people in your area then you could become a neighbourly volunteer with Age UK. Volunteers can help as much or as little as they like. Just offering a phone call once a week to someone staying at home during the outbreak could mean a lot.
Other acts of kindness students shared with us include:
Checking in with family and friends
Sending cards to tutors
Sharing one positive thought a day
Shopping locally and supporting small businesses
For more kindness stories from across the UK, head over to the Mental Health Foundation website.