Today is the first day of 2020’s Mental Health Awareness Week and there is still a lot going on online even if we can’t come together. And perhaps it’s more poignant now than ever to be taking time to think about our own mental health and asking other people how they are doing.
If you need support with your own mental health, please reach out to someone. You can find a list of resources for mental health support on the NHS website and some great information on the Mental Health Foundation website.
So with Mental Health Awareness Week upon us, what can you do to get involved?
1. Take part in the Mental Health Foundation’s kindness challenge
This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness. This reflects the fact that we are surrounded by so much amazing support at the moment and hopes to encourage it to continue. Check out this blog from Mental Health Foundation’s CEO about how kindness and mental health are deeply connected.
Get involved with the Mental Health Awareness Week conversation on social media with #kindnessmatters, and raise some money with their challenge to move for 30 minutes each day in May or run your own fundraising event. We are massive fans of the ‘be kind’ message and its benefits as we highlighted in our previous blog. Also, check out our #COVAKchallenge page to see how you can be kind to yourself and to others during this time, and beyond!
What Can We Do?’s #COVAKchallenge
2. Read up on the different kinds of mental health issues
If the COVID-19 crisis has done anything, it has highlighted the inequalities in society and that is the same when it comes to our mental health. People in poorer parts of the UK are two to three times more likely to experience mental health issues than those in richer areas.
It’s important to build our awareness and understanding of these issues which are so present in our societies and communities. We can educate ourselves this Mental Health Awareness Week to make us better placed to deal with them, whether they happen to us or to someone around us. Have a read of this brilliant introduction to mental health problems from MIND, and the different types of mental health issues from Time To Change.
3. Check out a film or workshop from the virtual Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival
Now in its 17th year, the festival is online and aims to celebrate the artistic achievements of people with experience of mental health issues. It also explores the relationship between creativity and the mind, and promote positive mental health and wellbeing.
You can watch a film exploring the positive relationship between mental health and video games; join the Mental Health Movie Monthly discussion on Twitter about the film District 9; or join a free weekly movement session.
Have a look at what’s on for the full list of theatre shows, Q&As, workshops, discussions and more.
Some of the activities taking place during the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival
4. Fight the stigma by talking
The number one tip from the Mental Health Foundation about how to look after your own mental health is to talk, talk, talk. Checking in with friends and family is the number one piece of advice from Time To Change for supporting people.
Talking also helps to reduce the stigma which still exists around mental health problems in some communities – whether its about your own experiences, or generally. One in four of us will experience mental health issues in our lifetime so being comfortable discussing them can help us manage them more easily. If you’re in England you might be able to get into some open space to safely meet a friend to talk. Otherwise, over the phone, video call or text can be just as effective.
Talk about it in your everyday communications with friends and family; get involved with Mental Health Awareness Week on social media by using their Instagram sticker and sharing their posts; and read this article from MIND about how to deal with stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental health issues. Being open and showing that there is nothing to be ashamed of may encourage someone to seek help.
5. Donate your time or money to a relevant cause
There are a number of charities working hard to support those with mental health problems. Through raising awareness of the issues surrounding them and reduce stigma. All charities are struggling for funding during this time yet are seeing a huge surge in their workload. Consider a donation to MIND, Mental Health Foundation, or the student focused Nightline Association, Young Minds. If you’re looking for more ideas, check out the other charities on our Donations page.
Feeling inspired? Here’s another way to help that only requires a phone. A huge number of charities are looking for telephone befrienders to support those who are shielding or people who are isolated. MIND says that loneliness and mental health issues are strongly linked. Connecting regularly with someone can really help to improve their quality of life, and you may also make a friend! There may be charities matching volunteers to people near where you live. You can also find national opportunities on our Actions page.
6. Take care of your own mental health
Life is looking very different for all of us at the moment. It’s more important than ever to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves to avoid burning out, becoming isolated, or developing mental health or physical health issues.
Self-care can help ease the symptoms of many mental health problems, and help prevent some from developing or getting worse. Taking care of yourself means you are more able to support others. Some ways to do this include staying aware of your mental state, eating well, getting enough sleep and keeping physically active. Also, there are plenty of tips available here from MIND. Check out loads of other mental health resources on our wellness and keeping busy pages.
Looking for more ways to get involved? Check out the following posts to find more ways to help:
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