#Be Kind for Mental Health Awareness Week

Since the start of the CV-19 lockdown my social media feeds keep telling me that we are all in the same boat but some of us travelling in choppier waters.

We are all living in strange times with heightened anxiety and new and difficult challenges.

This week marks mental health week in the UK. The theme this year is kindness.

Mark Rowland, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “We want to use Mental Health Awareness Week to celebrate the thousands of acts of kindness that are so important to our mental health. And we want to start a discussion on the kind of society we want to shape as we emerge from this pandemic.”

Over the past 2 months, thousands of acts of kindness have been undertaken by volunteers across Highland. It has been inspiring to see Youth Highland member clubs stepping up and responding to the needs of their local communities. Although our member clubs usually offer safe spaces and social opportunities to children and young people, they have been able to adapt and offer alternative support in the face of the global pandemic and fast changing community needs.

12 of our member clubs are offering essential emergency support – filling and distributing food parcels for families and activity packs for children and young people, delivering prescriptions and making calls to isolated older people to help keep them safe and feel less alone.

Our clubs are very well placed to offer this support. They are run by local people who are trusted within their local communities. They have strong and established relationships with individuals and families and they know which households might need a bit of extra support in such difficult times.

Many of our member clubs, and other voluntary organisations in Highland are offering support to young people online. This is new territory for many youth workers but has proved essential – ensuring young people maintain contact with trusted adults and are able to share their worries and talk about their hopes for the future.

Last week, YouthLink Scotland launched a campaign to ‘Invest in Youth Work’ stating that they expect an impending youth mental health crisis as a result of months of isolation for Scotland’s young people.

This prospect is very worrying. We must be ready and prepare to offer support and kindness to our children and young people as lockdown is loosened.

We cannot return to the ‘old normal’. We need to embrace and encourage change. Communities have proved that they are strong and resilient and able to make decisions and take control.

We must learn from our experiences during lockdown and encourage and celebrate more kindness as we move from a state of emergency into a period of recovery.

If you would like to know more about the work of Youth Highland and our network of more than 130 third sector and voluntary youth organisations please sign up to receive our regular newsdrop by contacting jacquie.steel@youthhihgland.org.uk, follow us on Facebook or Twitter or visit our website at www.youthhighland.org.uk