Next week is my favourite week of the whole year! Yes, next week is Mental Health Awareness week (18th – 24th May). Can you believe we are in May already?!

I am super happy to report that the theme chosen for 2020 is Kindness. This special week, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, will see people all across the country celebrating the power and potential of kindness.

Back in December, before COVID-19 kicked off big style, the theme for 2020 was due to be ‘sleep’… however, as the last few months began to unfold, the Mental Health Foundation decided that a focus on kindness would be far more beneficial during these times of uncertainty.

“Now more than ever, we need to re-discover kindness in our daily lives.” Mark Rowland, CEO of the Mental Health Foundation

During this week, the Mental Health Foundation will share data on how many of us experience kindness in the UK, along with a summary of the latest evidence showing how kindness can nourish our mental health.

“We think it could be the most important week we’ve hosted, not least because our own research shows that protecting our mental health is going to be central to us coping with and recovering from the coronavirus pandemic – with the psychological and social impacts likely to outlast the physical symptoms of the virus.”

We have already seen so much kindness across the UK this year, with our very own 100-year-old Captain Tom Moore filling our hearts by completing daily laps around his garden to raise money for the NHS. This man, who raised over £30 million in just a few weeks, has received multiple awards – including the rare Gold Blue Peter badge (I want one!) and the Freedom of the City of London award, streamed live on YouTube.  Heck, Captain Moore has even had a statue raised in his name.

Captain Tom Moore came into fame at the perfect time, just when our beautiful nation needed him to lift our spirits and bring us together as a society. This is just one of many stories where the UK has shown great strength during this unnerving time, and I am really looking forward to how we can continue to demonstrate our kindness over the remainder of this year.

What am I doing to celebrate Mental Health Awareness week?

In order to bring happiness and kindness to those in our lives, I will be launching my very first Action for Happiness online meet-up next week.

Starting Wednesday 20th May, 16:00 – 17:30, I will be hosting a free monthly meetup on zoom where – together – we will practice tuning into what makes us happy, while connecting with those around us. The format is based upon the 10 Keys to Happier Living (epic book), and each month we will explore a different theme.

The first session is on “MEANING: Being part of something bigger”.

Fill out this form with Action for Happiness if you are ready to be part of it (select the Oxfordshire group from the list). Please complete this no later than Monday 18th May, we will then contact you before the 20th with joining details.

Group sizes will be small to ensure we can connect at a deeper level and feel comforted, therefore spaces are limited. Places will be issued on a first come basis, should we have more interest than places we will look at running a second cafe.

Following monthly sessions include Joyful June (Optimism) on Wed 10th of June and Jump Back July (Resilience) on Wed 15th of July – so sign up above if you want to hear about and join these too.

Once we are released from lock down, I will continue to host a free Happy Café, where a group of us will meet up in Oxfordshire on a regular basis – focusing on bringing happiness and connection into our lives.

Do you want to get involved in Mental Health Awareness week?

During Mental Health Awareness Week, the Mental Health Foundation are asking you to do three things:

  1. Reflect on an act of kindness. Share your stories and pictures (with permission) of kindness during the week using #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
  2. Use their resources with your family, school, workplace and community to join with thousands in practising acts of kindness to yourself and others during the week.
  3. Share your ideas on how you think we could build a kinder society that would support our mental health using #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

To find out more, visit the Mental Health Foundation website.