Today (18 May) sees the start of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020. This year the theme is kindness. The week will be used to celebrate the thousands of acts of kindness that are so important to our mental health.

Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, we have seen so many fantastic examples of kindness from right across the world. People are helping their neighbours, delivering food and essentials to vulnerable people and communities are coming together to support the NHS and other key workers.

Kindness and mental health are deeply connected – helping others makes us feel good. Being aware of our own acts of kindness can increase feelings of happiness, optimism and satisfaction, they make the world happier, contributing to a more positive community.

We need to emerge from this epidemic with the understanding of what affects our mental health and what we can do to improve it. Looking after our mental health should be as natural as looking after our physical health.

We all need to recognise the signs

Emergency services workers face unique and complex challenges on a daily basis that you don’t often find in other sectors. It is crucial that we all learn to recognise when we are struggling and that we know what interventions and support packages are available.

Police officers and staff can often be reluctant to put their hand up and say “I can’t cope” – but talking about what you are experiencing when you are struggling, can often be helpful. Taking those things home at night, whether it be stress or trauma related, often isn’t the best answer for the person concerned.

It’s really important that line managers are able to recognise the issues affecting their teams – fifty per cent of a person’s wellbeing at work is determined by how well they get on with their line manager. Talk to your staff, be kind, be understanding, small things make a big difference.

Once we understand why we are feeling a certain way and identify the causes, there are lots of things we can do to improve our own mental health. We need to take time out to relax, try a breathing exercise or a mindfulness session, take up a new hobby, read a book, ring a friend, take some exercise or, just rest.

We have created some resources that you can use yourself and share with your colleagues and friends. If you are a wellbeing lead in your force, please feel free to use these to signpost to your own sources of guidance and support.

Resources for you to download and use in your force:

If you require any further information or digital resources please get in touch

Other useful resources