“Kindness” has been announced as the new theme for Mental Health Awareness Week, in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The change – from the original theme of “Sleep” – was made by the Mental Health Foundation, the charity that has set the theme and hosted the Week for the last 20 years.
The Week will run as planned from 18th to 24th May and is a moment for the UK to focus on mental health.
The charity will publish new polling data and a summary of the latest research evidence about the important mental health benefits of kindness, along with tips, ideas and stories that it hopes will inspire the nation.
Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “Now more than ever, we need to re-discover kindness in our daily lives.
“We want to use Mental Health Awareness Week to celebrate the thousands of acts of kindness that are so important to our mental health. And we want to start a discussion on the kind of society we want to shape as we emerge from this pandemic.
“Kindness unlocks our shared humanity and is central for our mental health. It has the potential to bring us together with benefits for everyone, particularly at times of great stress.
“One thing we have seen all over the world is that kindness is prevailing in uncertain times, helping people to connect and communities to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Kindness is also a vital way we can help support the millions of people who were experiencing mental health problems long before the pandemic started.
“The research clearly supports this – it shows that acts of kindness can help improve emotional wellbeing. This is true whether we are giving or receiving it.”
The Foundation has not forgotten the previous Mental Health Awareness Week theme of “Sleep” and will return to it at a later date, because it remains such an important topic.
The charity decided to change the theme to make it as relevant as possible to people being affected by coronavirus.
Mr Rowland added: “We will publish more details after Easter but the Week is open to anyone and everyone to take part – be it by carrying out an act of kindness, doing some volunteering or contributing to the discussion about what kind of society we want to emerge from the pandemic.”
Activities for the Week will be released nearer the time but will include:
- Poll findings highlighting the effect of kindness on our mental health
- Case studies about acts of kindness by individuals and communities
- Celebrity spokespeople and endorsement
- The opportunity for the public to share their experiences of kindness