By Lindsey Appleby-Flynn

Last week as part of my socially distanced food shop, I noticed an elderly man struggling to stand.

He’d crouched down low trying to reach a can of beans at the back of the shelf and was having a visible issue getting back up again.

A handful of people walked by and no one helped him.

To help, I knew I’d be risking my own health and potentially the health of this older gentleman as Coronavirus continues to dominate the UK. But I held out my elbow and offered it to the man to support his attempt to stand up.

He looked up at me with tears in his eyes as he gripped hold of my elbow and pulled himself to his feet.

In such a lonely and difficult time for us all, this man received a very simple act of kindness. And his emotional reaction shows just how much gratitude he had and the impact these seemingly small acts can have on us all.

It’s worth pointing out, after this interaction, both of us used alcohol gel to clean any areas of contact. I also changed and washed my clothes immediately after returning home to be on the safe side.

The benefits of kindness

I’m sharing this story because the 18-24 May is Mental Health Awareness Week 2020. A time for us all to focus on mental health in the UK, and this year, with a special focus on the mental health benefits of kindness.

Helping others through small acts of kindness has a proven positive effect on our mental health. And in a time when many of us may find out mental health is impacted by the Coronavirus restrictions and worry, a little boost to our mood from kindness is very much welcome.

Being kind to others makes us feel good about ourselves by promoting physiological changes in our brain linked to happiness. Kindness creates a sense of belonging and reduces loneliness. And, it really puts things into perspective, helping you to feel more grateful for what you do have.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines kindness as ‘the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate’. And during this very difficult time, we’re witnessing great acts of kindness on a daily basis.

Retired NHS staff and care workers are returning to their former profession with no hesitation. They’re putting their health and lives at risk to support those who need it most.

Captain Tom Moore who is (now) 100 years old has raised over £32million for the NHS. His selfless (and seemingly simple) act to raise money has encouraged others to generously donate. Kindness is contagious.

If you can be anything, be kind

COVID-19 has taken a great deal from us. But, it has also given us some time to step back from our busy lives and take note.

We’re rediscovering that the act of kindness is one of the most precious and rewarding acts.

Neighbours are checking on neighbours. Businesses who can help are helping. Those with a little extra time are volunteering to help the most vulnerable in our communities. People are truly being kind to both themselves and others.

In the care industry, a 17 year old care worker recently made the news with her kind heart. She’d discovered one of the residents at her care home, Ken, took a photograph of his late wife to bed with him every night. She had the photograph printed on a cushion that Ken could cuddle when he went to bed. He was truly overwhelmed and reduced to tears by her small act of kindness.

The story was replayed on Good Morning Britain where we discovered that Ken had served in WW2. Even the notoriously hard-hearted presenter, Piers Morgan, was kind and turned a 5-minute interview into a 20-minute interview to hear more about the gentleman’s life.

Kindness isn’t something new. It’s something we’ve been taught all our lives, yet it often falls by the wayside.

Mental health awareness in the workplace

In our fast-paced industry filled with highs and lows, it’s important that we’re always there for each other. Having an awareness of the signs that a colleague or service user might be struggling with their mental health is an important skill for all our employees to have.

Connect2Care’s Level 1 Awareness Of First Aid For Mental Health qualification gives learners these skills along with the confidence to start positive conversations about mental health in the workplace. This qualification is perfect for all of your team members to gain a better insight into mental health awareness.

For managers and supervisors, the Level 2 First Aid for Mental Health qualification helps leaders to create a positive culture towards mental health within the workplace. Whilst the Level 3 Supervising First Aid For Mental Health creates mental health advocates in your workforce.

At Connect2Care, our trainers have real-world experience of working in the mental health industry, providing an engaging and honest introduction to the subject. For more information about our mental health first aid courses and available training dates, please contact: [email protected].

One thing I hope our society takes away from the Coronavirus outbreak is that kindness doesn’t have to cost a thing, and the benefits can be exhaustive.

To help you and your team navigate through COVID-19, we’ve produced a free e-guide to aid you with supporting your employees’ wellbeing: Providing wellbeing support during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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