Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 ideas: Why kindness is the theme this year, and how to get involved

What is Mental Health Awareness Week?

Mental Health Awareness week is an annual week-long event organised by the Mental Health Foundation, which aims to support communities, families and individuals in driving change towards a mentally healthy society for all.

The event was first held in 2001, and aims to raise awareness of particular issues by focusing on a different theme each year.This year's Mental Health Awareness Week lasts from Monday 18 May to Sunday 24 May.

Why is kindness the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020?

The focus of the Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 was changed by the Mental Health Foundation to kindness in response to the coronavirus pandemic on 9 April, with the organisation saying it would return to its original theme at a later time.

Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation,wrote on the event's website: "We have chosen kindness because of its singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health. Wisdom from every culture across history recognises that kindness is something that all human beings need to experience and practise to be fully alive."

Mr Rowland, who described this year's event as potentially "the most important week we've hosted", concluded: "No act of kindness is ever wasted. Please join us this Mental Health Awareness Week and make kindness matter."

Here are some ideas about getting involved:    

  • Volunteer for a local community organisation  

  • Offer your expertise and support as a mentor for those who are struggling  
  • Check in safely with a neighbour who is isolated or shielding  

  • See if there’s anything you can do to support your children’s school or nursery – offer to read stories by video for example  

  • Involve your friends and neighbours in community projects   

  • You could start up an online book club or film club  

  • Offer to skill-share with a friend via video call - you could teach guitar, dance or a new recipe.  

  • Call a friend that you haven’t spoken to for a while  

  • Tell a family member how much you love and appreciate them  

It’s important to be kind to yourself as well;

Whatever you can manage today is good enough. Some people feel that the lockdown is giving them the time and chance to learn new skills or try new things. That may be you, and if so, enjoy and celebrate that.     

If this isn’t you, try not to beat yourself up about what you see others doing. If things are hard right now, try and find some small things to celebrate each day. Getting up and washing your hair can be just as much of an achievement as someone else posting about a 5k run on Instagram.  

Try to tune out the voice of judgement and comparison and tune in to the voice that says you are enough.  

Be kind to yourself :

  • Prioritise some “me” time, so you can relax and reflect on how you’re feeling and how your day or week has been so far  
  • Turn off from your social media channels for a day, or even a week  

  • Treat yourself to something small, such as buying or planting some flowers  

  • Do something you enjoy, like listening to a favourite song or dancing in your kitchen  

  • Spend some time in nature, which is good for our mental health   

BY Boniface Mahulo




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