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Our local Time to Change Champions are leading the fight against mental health stigma. With this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week being themed on ‘Kindness’, they are sharing stories about how different sorts of kindness have helped them, and allowed them to help others:

“How Kindness Can Impact Our Mental Health

In the light of recent circumstances, the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week has been changed to ‘kindness’. In a world that is currently dominated by the virus, it is more important than ever that we show kindness to each other. Kindness is often so important for people who are struggling with their mental health and there are many different ways that being kind can have a positive impact on our lives.

Kindness towards Others

When people are kind towards us, it can turn a bad day into a good day instantly. For people with mental illness, the smallest of tasks can seem like the tallest of mountains. When our friends and family help, it can change our perspective and show us that the mountain is just a hill – still a challenge but the summit is in sight. A huge example of this that I have experienced is the patience that both my friends and family have shown when I was struggling to leave the house, due to the lightheadedness that I experience with my anxiety. The fact that they never gave up on me was huge and helped to eventually go out a lot farther with a lot less fear.

When I was at my lowest point with my depression, my teachers and friends at college showed so much kindness, going out of their way to make my everyday more life that little more comfortable. They helped me when I had panic attacks, talked me through the content I missed, and helped to make me laugh and smile when the only thing that I thought I could do was cry. Having that safety blanket was such a comfort, and without the people around me at the time, there was no way that I would have made it through college.

Kindness towards Ourselves

Taking care of ourselves is so important, especially at the moment when we are a lot more likely to struggle with our mental health. This goes beyond the common knowledge of ‘self-care’. Although relaxing with a bath bomb and face mask can help to take our minds of things, there are far more ways that we can be kind to ourselves.

One of these is establishing the fact that it is okay to feel stressed and worried in times like this. This is a situation that none of us could have even imagined let alone it being one that nobody has experienced before. The sudden changing of the world is a very new and scary experience. Feeling nervous is a natural, human reaction to such a drastic change in our lives- and that’s okay! If we didn’t feel worried, we would not put the steps in place to protect ourselves. The important thing is to try to not let that fear consume us. It is to notice that the fear is there, accept the fear is there but to not let it get to a point where it has a serious impact on our lives. If the news puts you on edge, if social media is too intense- step away from it. Find that off button and try to occupy yourself with something that brings you joy. Taking care of yourself is far more important than hearing daily statistics.

For me, being kind to myself has included stepping away from things in order to protect my mental health. This included the decision to not go to university, so that I could work on improving my mental health instead of making it worse by continuing the stress that I found education brought into my life. It can be really hard but saying no in order to protect your mental health, can be one of the most vital ways to be kind to yourself, especially if like me, you always want to please others.

Being Kind to a stranger

Small acts of kindness towards a stranger can make such a huge difference to somebody’s day. It may not only help to make a bad day so much better, but also remind us how we are all here together in this world. For someone suffering with mental illness, going out can bring on large amounts of anxiety. Small acts of kindness can help people to feel so much more comfortable, possibly even making it easier for them to go out in the future.

Recently, a lot of the kindness I have witnessed has been from strangers on the internet. As I have started to share my story online, I have felt more and more accepted from all the lovely comments and messages I have received from people. To copy this kindness, I am sending out packages to help put a smile on some of the people that have been so welcoming to myself online. I hope by doing this, I can help to reciprocate the kindness that they have shown me, and to potentially help them to make it through such a hard time that we are all experiencing right now.

Kindness is so important in the world we live in. I hope that this Mental Health Awareness week, we can all be that bit kinder to both ourselves and others- we can get through this as long as we stick together!!”

The Portsmouth and Southampton Time to change hub is delivered in partnership by Southampton City Council and Portsmouth City Council, co-ordinated by Solent Mind.

We are committed to the Hub being led by Champions. There are many ways that registered Champions can get involved in the direction of the Hub, including joining us at Steering Group meetings. If you’d like to find out more please contact ttc@solentmind.org.uk.

If you are looking for support with your mental health or wellbeing at this difficult time, please visit our support page.

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