Kindness goes a long way

Today’s blog post comes from Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Communities, Equalities and Public Health.

In the last few months our lives have drastically changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. We are all adapting to a new way of living and working, whilst coming to terms with the demands on our physical and mental health.

We are now approaching the end of national Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year’s theme is ‘kindness’. It is something we all do and show in Bristol, quite naturally. Especially in the last eight weeks, we have seen our city and its people adapting together to overcome one of the biggest global challenges we have faced.

As I reflect, I am reminded of the many actions you have taken in response to the outbreak. Every day we hear stories of countless acts of kindness and generosity, such as volunteering, donations of food, books and much more; all to help others through this challenge. But it’s also clear that coronavirus will continue to impact our lives in many ways for some time to come. We are in a period of major change and during times like this we all need to continue to look out for each other, and be kind to ourselves.

We are working closely with health partners to understand the impact that coronavirus has had on the mental health and wellbeing of our citizens, so that we  can support everyone in the best way possible, both now and in future. New services will be launched as part of this work, including a 24/7 helpline.

Mental health and wellbeing is a key priority for Bristol and has been for several years. In 2019 we launched Thrive Bristol, a ten-year programme to improve the mental health of everyone in the city, with a focus on those with the greatest needs. Through our Thrive networks, we are widely promoting tools and resources launched in response to the pandemic, including Our Frontline, Zero Suicide Alliance training and Thriving at Home, as well as existing services which have expanded their offer, such as Talk Club for men and Bristol Mind.

We also became the first city in the country, in October 2019, to make the Mental Health at Work Commitment, and through our Thriving at Work partnership we are developing support for employees across the region. We are offering mental health training to volunteers and community groups in Bristol. These are ongoing initiatives that have been in place since before the pandemic, ones we are continuing to develop so that in future we can all talk openly about mental health problems. This is a future where mental and physical health are comparable in terms of their treatment, transparency and social acceptance. And it is important we all do our part.

Kindness isn’t just for Mental Health Awareness Week – it’s something we should be doing every day. I have every faith that the people of Bristol will continue to support each other through difficult times. It’s up to you, me and each and every person in our city. Only with solidarity will we overcome the challenges ahead of us.

Showing kindness isn’t just something we should do for other people, we need to be kind to ourselves as well. I hope you have used this week as an opportunity to think about your own mental health. I’ve included some resources below to help you and your loved ones.

  • Stay connected with friends and family to help and support others. If you know someone who may be finding lockdown difficult, you could simply text or call them to check they’re okay.
  • Look after your sleep, keep active, and try to limit your news intake.
  • Search the Every Mind Matters website, where you can get your free personalised plan to help you deal with stress and anxiety.
  • Talk about your worries with someone you trust or, if you prefer, a professional. You may wish to call Bristol Mind on 0808 808 0330, or Samaritans on 116 123. More support options are available here.
  • Explore volunteering opportunities to help your local community, at Can Do Bristol.

A full list of local support can be found through the Independent Mental Health Network and the Community Access Support Service, CASS.

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