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Health and care partners in Coventry and Warwickshire are marking Mental Health Awareness Week, from 18-24 May, by celebrating kindness and the importance of doing our best to positively affect the wellbeing of others and ourselves during the coronavirus pandemic.
With one in four people experiencing a mental health problem in any given year, residents are being reminded that acts of kindness are vital to our mental health, now more than ever before.
Often people are afraid to talk about their mental health experiences because they fear the response and stigma they may receive. However, recognising the importance of taking care of our wellbeing in communities can break down barriers, helping to end the isolation, shame and worthlessness that too many people feel when experiencing a mental health problem.
There are five steps that individuals and communities can take to improve mental health and build wellbeing and kindness into daily life to help with feeling good and functioning well.
Maintaining healthy relationships with people you trust is important for your mental wellbeing. There are many activities you can do together at home or online, including online and virtual activities and classes for families and children. This includes many activities for children and young people and families at the Coventry Music Hub, the Coventry Cultural Education Partnership and Wriggle Dance Theatre.
Think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family while you are at home – by phone, messaging, video calls or online – whether it's people you usually see often or reconnecting with old friends or neighbours.
We are all going through this together so even when we’re not face-to-face, continue to keep in contact and be kind to each other.
Being kind to yourself is just as important for your wellbeing. Set aside some time each week for you and maybe think about hobbies that you enjoy, taking up a new skill, or make full use of the free online library services from Coventry and Warwickshire, which includes eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, eNewspapers in addition to home learning and study support for pupils.
Being kind to your body is all about staying active and looking after your wellbeing by exercising and setting yourself challenges. WCC has a dedicated resource to keeping active during Covid-19. There are many ways to stay active during Covid19 and the guide includes lots of hints and tips to help you find something that you enjoy.
Many activities have been produced from a range of resources available online from theNHS fitness studio workouts, to Mind’s Get Active Bingo and Warwickshire County Council’s video series of gentle exercise videos to Joe Wicks’ ‘The Body Coach’ PE workout sessions.
Acts of kindness within your community at this time are increasingly important, no matter how big or small the contribution. Coventry will be featuring stories of unsung heroes in our communities who are positively affecting others during these challenging times. To find out ways to help give back to your community, Warwickshire County Council has developed a webpage containing information on how to volunteer and help during this time.
If you’ve found that life has slowed down, you can take the opportunity to be present in the now and be more mindful, reflecting on experiences, and appreciating what matters to us.Bring your attention and interest to your surroundings and look for things that bring you happiness.
Take a stroll outdoors and notice the colour of the leaves and local wildlife, or make changes to your indoor environment by repurposing unneeded items. This is all about being kind to your environment.
Remember, it is okay not to feel okay, but structuring our lives around the 5 Ways to Wellbeing could significantly contribute to getting through this difficult time together.
Coventry City Councillor Kamran Caan, portfolio holder for Public Health and Sport, said: “I am so delighted to see that kindness is prevailing in our communities during these uncertain times. We haven’t won this battle with coronavirus yet and while we must stick to lockdown guidelines, we must also make sure looking after our wellbeing, and the wellbeing of those around us, is at the top of the agenda.
“The power of kindness cannot be underestimated; it helps people feel connected at a time they feel alone, it strengthens relationships, and deepens solidarity in communities. I highly recommend adopting the Five Ways to Wellbeing as part of daily life, to help reduce stress and improve emotional wellbeing.
“Kindness and improved wellbeing will be crucial in protecting our mental health as we recover from this pandemic. We want Coventry to be a place where no one feels alone or isolated and a place where kindness continues to prevail after this difficult time.”
Warwickshire County Council portfolio holder for Adult Social Care and Health, Councillor Les Caborn, said: “Worry and anxiety are common problems at the best of times and with these uncertain times, it’s hard not to worry about what it all means for yourself and for those you love. This is why Mental Health Awareness Week and the power of kindness have never been more important.
“While we stick to social distancing guidelines, we can still be kind to ourselves and one another. Warwickshire is full of kind-hearted people who have gone above and beyond to help each other during these unprecedented times – for example, we have had a magnificent upsurge in the numbers of people volunteering - and with the Five Ways to Wellbeing to help structure our lives along the way, we can come out of this stronger than ever.
“It is important to remember that everyone reacts differently to different events – the council is open for business and we are working hard to keep our services running as smoothly as possible. We hope the broad resources we have available will mean we can all find ways to look after our wellbeing in such trying times.”
For anyone struggling, there are a range of mental health and wellbeing support services offered in a variety of ways across Coventry and Warwickshire. More information on support services available, can be found on our website or on Warwickshire County Council's website.
If you need help now, there is more information about local support and resources available.
Mental Health Awareness Week is organised by the Mental Health Foundation, the campaign to raise awareness of mental health and mental health problems. It aims to inspire action to promote the message of good mental health for all.