Kindness matters – think of yourself and others

19th May 2020

Dorset HealthCare is asking people to ‘be kind’ during Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May), and help each other through the impacts of the pandemic.

This year’s national campaign highlights the need for everyone to look after our minds, as well as our bodies. And the aim of the week is to promote good mental health through acts of kindness.

Many people are facing problems as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions. Giving and receiving acts of kindness – including being kind to ourselves and seeking help when we need it – can make a huge difference.

Dorset HealthCare provides a range of mental health services across the county and will be highlighting the support available for all members of our community, including:

  • expectant mothers and their partners
  • parents coping with children at home
  • young people
  • carers
  • older people.

Together with Public Health Dorset, BCP Council and Dorset Council the Trust will be sharing experiences of local residents and celebrating how #KindnessMatters.

Alice Robbins, 24, from Sherborne, sought help from the Trust’s Steps2Wellbeing service for postnatal depression and grief after losing her partner.

She said: “Steps2Wellbeing has been a huge support for me. I started receiving help after my first child was born when I started to suffer with depression and anxiety. I received Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) over the phone for around seven months.

“But in January last year my husband had a car accident and passed away a month later. I went back for support in May to continue my CBT and I also started seeing a counsellor.

“It was also reassuring to know that I could speak to the same person once a week and have that support at the end of the phone. Even during lockdown I knew my counsellor, Brenda, was there for me.

“I would say to anyone who might be going through anything such as depression after having a baby or losing a loved one, don’t be scared – get the support. Once I admitted there was something wrong, it was a weight lifted. There is nothing to be ashamed of.”

Weymouth resident Gemma French-Millard, 30, is a carer for her mum, who has mental health problems after suffering abuse that led to brain damage. Her mum could be aggressive and was considered a danger to others.

While adamant she would look after her mum at home, Gemma need help from the Trust’s Steps2Wellbeing service to deal the strains and pressures involved.

“I gave up a lot to care for my mum but it is an act of kindness that I would do all over again,” said Gemma.

“When I started receiving support from Steps2Wellbeing they gave me a lot of emotional support and helped me over the phone when mum would have ‘a moment’, as we would call it. They helped me to see that all of my feelings were normal, and the support helped me feel less isolated.

“In lockdown there is not a lot of respite for carers. I would urge people to be respectful and kind, as you don’t know what others are going through.”

Clare Hurley, Head of Adult Psychological Services at Dorset HealthCare, said:

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenging time and people’s mental health will have been affected in various ways. Many people will be feeling lonely, isolated, stressed and anxious, so we must do all we can to look after each other and support one another’s mental wellbeing.

“If you are struggling, we are here for you. There is a range of support available and we will find what feels right for you. The first step is the hardest, but be kind to yourself. Overcoming your fear can lead to receiving the support you need.”

Steps2Wellbeing is providing support during lockdown via video calls. You can refer yourself at www.steps2wellbeing.co.uk or ask your GP for a referral.

The Trust also runs Connection, a 24/7 helpline for all ages on 0300 123 5440, for people struggling to cope or in a mental health crisis.

Click here to read more about the local #KindnessMatters campaign and how you can get involved.

Additional information to help families through the COVID-19 pandemic is available here.

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