18/05/2020

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020: Kindness matters

18/05/2020

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020: Kindness matters

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Kindness matters, that’s the message to Scots as Mental Health Awareness Week kicks off today (May 18).

Now in its 20th year the nation-wide campaign, run by the Mental Health Foundation, strives to raise awareness and inspire actions to breakdown stigma surrounding mental health issues.

And to launch the annual campaign, which will hinge on kindness, a survey by the charity has revealed almost three-quarters of Scottish adults (64%) say it is important that we learn from the coronavirus pandemic to be more kind as a society.

The survey which polled 2,056 adults across the UK, also found that almost two-thirds of people say that being kind has a positive impact on mental health, while more than six in 10 Scottish adults also say that being kind to other people has a positive impact on their mental health.

Taking action

To support the #kindnessmatters campaign, the Mental Health Foundation, has launched a report which highlights the impact of kindness on mental health along with a policy paper that recommends how kindness can be turned into action.

Speaking of the 2020 campaign Lee Knifton, Director of the Mental Health Foundation Scotland, said the impact of kindness on mental health had always been clear and that the survey showed ‘powerful support’ for a kinder approach.

“At one level, kindness can be as simple as phoning a friend who is lonely or thanking a colleague for something they have done,” he said.

“However, to have a major impact on improving our mental health we need to take kindness seriously as a society. In particular, we need to make kindness an important part of public policy.

“The pandemic is an opportunity to do that. Kindness can play an essential role in reducing the social, economic and mental health consequences of the crisis that could last for years to come.”

Calls for kindness to shape decision-making

The Mental Health Foundation Scotland is also calling on Scottish Government departments and local authorities implement a values-based kindness test to new and current policies. It is hoped that the test would ensure future policies and decision-making would be informed by kindness, equality, dignity and respect.

Key policy recommendations being highlighted that could affect Scottish finances include:

• Kindness in our economy – Scotland should publish its first Wellbeing Budget drawing on international experience and place wellbeing metrics on an equal footing with GDP.

• Kindness in social security – The Universal Credit advance payment should be made a grant while benefit sanctions, which often lead to poorer mental health, should be halted entirely.

Speaking of the recommendations, Lee continued: “We need to challenge the idea that kindness has no relevance to government and public policy. Instead, we want to start taking kindness seriously in how we shape political decision-making at all levels.

“Kindness has a role to play in how we run our social security services, how we treat people in our justice system and how we care for people right across health and social care. To achieve this, we need to include a fundamental test for all existing and new policies – are they kind?

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-imagine a kinder society – one that protects all our mental health and especially that of the most vulnerable.”

Mental health and debt

The link between finances and debt is well documented.

Research from the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute showcases the difficulty of dealing with debt and mental health. Debt isn’t just a financial problem. It can cause serious mental health problems and mental health can cause serious debt problems.

According to the organisation, mental health issues make dealing with money more difficult due to a number of factors. A lack of motivation to impaired judgement and an inability to make calls or open post are all contributing factors to money problems and are battles faced daily by those in need of support.

Living with mental ill-health can also have an effect on the ability to earn and manage money, whilst the negativity debt can bring can have a serious impact on a person’s mental health.

From anxiety to depression, the impact of mental wellbeing on finances should never be underestimated.

Anyone struggling and unable to manage their debt should always remember that help isn’t far away. Further information about debt and mental health can be accessed here.

Health Awareness Week will run from May 18-24 and can be found on social media using #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. If you’re worried about debt and mental health and are searching for advice, talk to an experienced Carrington Dean advisor on 0808 2234 102.

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