Today (Monday 18th May) marks the launch of Mental Health Awareness Week, the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health. 

The week, which is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, is in its 20th year and runs from 18-24th May. This year, the theme for the week is kindness and across the country, people will be celebrating kindness in a range of digital and creative ways within social distancing restrictions.

David Stewart MSP is backing the week and urging local people to think about how acts of kindness can help people’s mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said: “The last couple of months, with all the uncertainty of the virus and the impact of lockdown, have been an extremely stressful and worrying time for many people across the Highlands and Islands. People who may have previously felt isolated in remote and rural communities may be feeling this even more acutely at this time, so it’s important they know that support is available to them.

“We know that across the region many people have also sadly faced the pain of losing loved ones to the virus or have fallen ill themselves, while others have seen their livelihoods put at risk or incomes reduced. All of this has put additional strain on people’s mental well-being.

“This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is putting the focus on kindness as a means of helping people through the pandemic and building a better society as we emerge from it. We see many acts of kindness in the Highlands and Islands all the time, but this week is an opportunity for people to reflect on their interactions with others and how they can try and be a little kinder during this unprecedented time.”

Mark Rowland Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation said: “This year may be the most important week we have ever hosted, as we deal with coping and recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. We must do all we can to reduce the psychological and social impacts of the pandemic which could outlast the physical symptoms of the virus.

“At time when we must socially isolate, stories of kindness have helped spread a shared sense of connection and joy. The research backs this up - kindness is deeply connected to mental health. The message this Mental Health Awareness Week is that kindness matters. It matters to our mental health and it will matter hugely in the society we build from here – one that better protects our mental health.”

How to get involved online:

  • Reflect on an act of kindness. Share your stories and pictures (with permission) of kindness during the week using #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
  • Use Mental Health Foundation resources in your family, school, workplace and community to join with thousands in practising acts of kindness to yourself and others during the week 
  • Share your ideas on how you think we could build a kinder society that would support our mental health using #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
  • For more information about this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week visit mentalhealth.org.uk/kindnessmatters or join the conversation on social media using #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek