Mental Health Awareness Week, set to take place from 18th to 24th May, has changed its theme as a direct response to the current COVID-19 challenges.
The Mental Health Foundation, the charity which has hosted the week for the last 20 years, made the unprecedented change to their earlier theme “Sleep” as a reaction to the coronavirus outbreak.
As the country deals with the 6th week of lockdown, mental and physical wellbeing is at the forefront of minds, with loneliness being felt across the generations. It has been reported that almost a quarter of adults in the UK has felt a degree of loneliness during lockdown, a statistic that the Mental Health Foundation believes raises concerns for long-term risk to the mental health of those experiencing loneliness. Loneliness and social isolation, at any age, can increase the risk of depression, anxiety, paranoia and panic attacks.
During Mental Health Awareness Week, the focus will now be on kindness, including the mental health benefits of kindness, and tips, stories, and ideas to inspire the nation to be kinder to those they know and those in their community. However, the foundation aims to return to the theme of “Sleep” later on in the year, as it remains a critical topic to cover.
The UK has seen an incredible increase in community spirit during the COVID-19 crisis, with communities rallying around to clap for the NHS on a Thursday evening, as well as helping vulnerable members of the community by delivering shopping and critical items, such as medication.
Even online communities are getting involved in spreading love and kindness. On Twitter, there is a current trend where users share their Amazon wishlists and gift each other ‘self-care’ items. This trend has provided a safe way for those around the country to send something to make someone’s day, often someone who is struggling with their mental health. It’s a safe way to send someone you may not personally know a gift, as Amazon hides the recipient’s address.
The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is designed to keep that community spirit of kindness alive, drawing attention to it more than ever.
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.”
As approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem every year, Mental Health Awareness Week aims to get people talking and to reduce the stigma that can stop people from asking for support and help in times of distress and need.
Additionally, Rethink Mental Illness will also be raising awareness during the week, focusing on wider community support for those who experience severe mental illness. Rethink Mental Illness believes the best possible treatment on its own isn’t enough to provide a good quality of life. The charity also believes that the future of mental health care is community-based, meeting the needs of all who live with mental illness.
They will be raising awareness of six crucial components needed for a world-leading community model of care, including:
- Physical Health
- Finances and Employment
- Social Connectedness
- Access to clinical services
For those wishing to get involved with this important week, you can purchase a green ribbon from the Mental health Foundation, which is the international symbol for mental health awareness.