The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week this year is kindness; something that we all appreciate but it can be difficult to define.
Last year, I took part in a series of conversations led by the University of Edinburgh on kindness in policy. This was in response to the inclusion of kindness in Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework. Through case studies, reviewing previous research and hearing examples from across many contexts, it was clear that there is a positive impact of kindness.
Everyone within these discussions agreed that they could identify whether something was kind. Where the debate became more challenging was effectively defining kindness.
My view is kindness and benevolence are discrete. Often a contribution to a cause may appear kind but real kindness is the individual, personal investment of time, thought and / or effort.
This comes to life every day, in my privileged role of supporting the care sector. The selfless commitment by carers and care providers to be kind is genuinely inspiring.
On a personal note, as my dad gets closer to his last breaths, it is the small, thoughtful acts of kindness across the circle of care that are giving him pleasure and dignity. Yes, the medical and clinical processes are essential and appreciated. However, turning his bed to face his garden, putting bird feeders at the window and reading him Scottish poems every day are kind.
Subtle and often unspoken acts of kindness happen every day across care. This is rarely something that is driven by infrastructure, systems or policy. Instead it comes from a culture where kindness is embedded and through personal choices of carers to be kind. Thank you.
During Mental Health Awareness Week, let’s not focus too much on defining kindness. Instead, take some time this week to celebrate, appreciate and enjoy the kindness we see.
Duncan Campbell, Director, everyLIFE