Get inspired. Be kind. And make a difference in May

Emily Gabrielsen

By Emily Gabrielsen
Health and Wellbeing Manager

Get inspired. Be kind. And make a difference in May

What’s the difference between mental health and physical health? Should one supersede the other? Although throughout history both have always existed, the focus has tended to be much more on physical health. However, it has become apparent in recent years how important it is to create an environment where we all feel as comfortable talking about mental wellbeing as we do about a broken leg. Every year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem and it has never been more important to create an open and honest environment in light of the coronavirus pandemic - although not everyone will get the virus, we’ll all be impacted by it.

The Mental Health Foundation has declared 18-24 May 2020 as Mental Health Awareness Week with "kindness" as its theme. It is a chance for all of us to be more open about mental health – to talk, to listen, to change lives. Marking such key dates demonstrates a clear acknowledgement of the fact that we all have mental health and the impact our mental health has on work and vice-versa. Through educational activities, Centrica has looked to improve employee understanding of mental health – the first steps to addressing stigma and developing a workplace culture where employees feel they can be open and honest about their mental health.

Our MyWellbeing team has embraced Mental Health Awareness week and will be extending it throughout the month of May, recognising the critical role that kindness plays in protecting and promoting mental health. We’ve created the kindness challenge to encourage employees to partake in small acts of kindness in their day to day life and share with each other. But why is it that kindness matters so much? Research shows that focusing on kindness can have a great impact on our overall sense of wellbeing: 

  • Kindness creates kindness. When we are kind, it inspires others to be kind and creates a ripple effect. 
  • Kindness makes you happy. A simple act of kindness can turn a bad day into a good day, not only for the receiver but also for the giver.  
  • Kindness is good for your health. Being kind releases our feel-good hormones while reducing our stress hormones.   
  • Kindness sparks hope. Hope can heal, motivate, encourage self-belief, reduce negative thoughts and bring inner peace.

The theme of kindness although a simple concept, has helped us to focus on all things, both big and small that make a difference. A holistic wellbeing culture is so important to raise awareness and normalise mental health in the workplace. Our Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) network has been a great success with more than 200 people being involved and the passion of those to help others has been inspiring. We also rolled out the use of the Unmind app across the organisation which gives people the tools and insights to help people look after their wellbeing. It has been incredibly well received.

Although the last few months have no doubt impacted everyone’s mental health, it has been refreshing to see how the coronavirus pandemic has led to some great initiatives to support our mental health. One being a working from home Yammer group which is keeping colleagues connected and supported, as well as the great efforts of those being part of charitable causes such as the 2.6 challenge – physical health and mental health in a lot of ways are intrinsically linked.

I am excited to see what other initiatives arise during May and beyond, as it is safe to say that there is more work to be done in raising mental health awareness and making sure we all feel supported with help on hand.

It’s time to get inspired. Be kind. And make a difference in May.