This year’s theme is kindness, in response to the coronavirus outbreak which is having a big impact on people’s mental health.
At Caritas Anchor House, Mental Health Awareness Week is being marked in a considerably different way to what we would usually. Last year, a group of eight residents joined staff on our annual mindfulness retreat in Walsingham in Norfolk, and in 2018, we celebrated the week by putting on daily, fun and interactive activities to promote wellbeing.
This week, we are promoting and celebrating the acts of kindness that are so important to our mental health, and which we witness every single day. The acts of kindness of our residents towards their peers; of our colleagues who are keeping in touch and providing support during these challenging times; and of our supporters and members of the community for thinking of Caritas Anchor House and people experiencing homelessness and doing what they can to help.
Over the last two months while the country has been in lockdown, we have adapted and developed how we keep in touch with residents and provide ongoing support during this difficult time. We are keeping in regular contact with all residents by phone to check in and make sure they are coping okay, carrying out comprehensive health screenings, and making telephone consultations available to those who are struggling.
A digital wellbeing pack has been developed to address several areas that we know are important for our residents. They include promoting physical health, maintaining good mental wellbeing, support for those who need it around substance misuse, tips for a good night’s sleep as well as many other useful online resources. We’ve also provided ‘distraction packs’ and techniques to help residents overcome boredom and loneliness, while many are having to spend the majority of lockdown in their room.
We’ve also developed our wellbeing package to support staff during this difficult time, while many continue to deliver our frontline services and many are working from home. We have introduced virtual coffee breaks, meditation sessions and even shared lunches to maintain a sense of community – we want all staff to know that we’re in this together.
We know that, particularly during this time, acts of kindness have had a positive impact on both our resident and staff’s mental health. In fact, there have been studies to show that kindness can significantly improve our physical and emotional wellbeing, whether we are giving or receiving it.
Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. We know that one act of kindness can lead to many more.
That’s why, this Mental Health Awareness Week, we are asking you to reflect on an act of kindness. Share your stories and pictures of kindness during the week using #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and tagging @Anchor_House (Twitter) or caritasanchorhouse on Facebook and Instagram.