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Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

Dr Charlotte Caton, Head of Psychology and Forensic Psychologist at Cheswold Park Hospital, would like to introduce Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 by sharing her thoughts on kindness. This year the theme for Mental Health Awareness week is kindness and the one thing we have seen that is prevailing in uncertain times is kindness. It's important to be kind to others, but also we need to learn how to be kind to ourselves.

"Rarely has there been a time as pertinent to consider increasing awareness of mental health related issues. I was grateful to be asked to contribute to this years’ mental health awareness week given the very important theme of kindness.

Kindness almost seems like ‘too simple’ a concept to matter, but it really does. In fact, one thing we have seen all over the world in the middle of a pandemic and lots of worry and fear is that kindness has prevailed. Perhaps the most public display of kindness in the UK media has been the incredible work of Captain Tom Moore and the £33 million pounds he raised for the NHS. Equally as important as his fundraising efforts were the words of hope he shared in offering kindness to others, ‘for those people who are finding it difficult at the moment: the sun will shine on you again and the clouds will go away’.

Kindness encompasses qualities such as compassion, warmth, validation, belonging and empathy for others. The importance of kindness should not be underestimated. Positively in mental health terms it is something we can all do! Wisdom from every culture across history has recognised kindness as something that all human beings need and to strive towards.

Being kind to others not only helps that person, but also helps our own mental health. It can reduce our stress levels and improve our mental well-being. Protecting our own mental health is central to coping with and recovering in the longer term from the impact of COVID-19. We all have the chance to contribute to a kinder society. Imagine the impact of one extra act of kindness per day from each of us, it could be transformative.

Kindness is not only important to share with others but also with ourselves. To use my favourite analogy you need to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others and kindness is the same. One of the human beings whose essence appeared to be of kindness and compassion in the face of adversity and fear made the following observation, ‘it is in our hands to make of our world a better one for all’ (Nelson Mandela).

No act of kindness is ever wasted, what could you do to be kinder to yourself and to pay that forward to others?"

- Dr Charlotte Caton

Head of Psychology and Forensic Psychologist at Cheswold Park Hospital

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