By Lindsey Appleby-Flynn, HIT Training's Mental Health Expert
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.
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.
The current work of one of HIT Training’s former apprentices, Josh Stevens, is a perfect example of someone using their skills to support their local community. Josh, Head Chef of Trent Navigation in Nottingham, and his team are voluntarily cooking a thousand meals per week to feed local people in need for free.
Josh and this team are also relying on the kindness and support of others to help fund their initiative. The public are able to donate money to help cover the costs of ingredients and supplies.
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.
HIT Training’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 HIT Training, 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.