This week (May 18th to 24th) is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and the focus this year is on kindness.
In these trying times, it’s important to shine a light on all those little acts of generosity and compassion that make our days brighter. A recent survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that 72% of UK adults think that it is important we learn from the COVID-19 pandemic to be more kind as a society.
We asked Lucy Salter and Natasha van Leeuwen, two of DNEG’s mental health champions, why being kind is cool and the impact kindness can have on our and others’ mental health.
Left: Lucy Salter – Right: Natasha van Leeuwen
Hi both, thank you for joining us today on DNEG’s blog! Let’s start with an easy question 😉 … what is kindness for you?
Lucy – For me kindness is an act driven by consideration and care for someone. It usually involves an attempt to understand what that person needs, and may involve some level of self-sacrifice.
Natasha – Yes, and it’s universal! No matter who you are or where you’re from, we can all share in the acts of kindness. It’s accessible to everyone.
How does kindness impact mental health?
Lucy – Humans are designed to live in community with each other; we need other people and we need support. When we’re up against it and facing hardship it’s more vital to us than ever to reach out and help each other.
Natasha – The act of kindness has so many positive effects on your mental health! It helps us strengthen our relationships, develop community, have a sense of solidarity which is important for us now in a time of isolation and worry. Practicing kindness shows others that they are not alone and we are here for each other.
Why do you think it is important for employers to be involved in ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’?
Natasha – Discussing mental health in the workplace has always been viewed as a trickier topic. There is still some stigma around it. Employers can lead by example. They can create an accessible and positive environment by openly talking about mental health and promoting resources.
Lucy – Absolutely. After all a business isn’t just about producing a product and making money, it’s a community of people who matter. Company-wide initiatives can be more far-reaching than individual efforts!
At DNEG we are running a number of activities for Mental Health Awareness Week including a kindness webinar and a workshop on how to listen and support others. We also have a mental health blog and a thank you page on DNEG’s intranet where employees can talk about kindness and self compassion and leave a thank-you note for someone who’s had a positive impact (even small!) on their life at work.
You are both part of DNEG’s Mental Health committee, can you tell us a bit about the committee’s purpose?
Lucy – Our primary mission is to break down stigma and barriers surrounding talking about mental health and enable DNEG to be a place which fosters good mental health for all, and where mental health issues can be discussed freely and without judgement.
Natasha – The committee is also working on raising awareness internally that all employees can access mental health support at DNEG, or be sign posted to professional support if needed. DNEG’s Employee Assistance Program is a valuable resource which provides free therapy.
Members of DNEG’s Mental Health committee are employees who wish to champion mental health and support others. We meet every few weeks to discuss what we can do within the company to promote and support mental health with internal events, training sessions, workshops and other initiatives.
What is the main takeaway you’d like people to remember from this week?
Natasha – I’d like people to feel supported, and that they aren’t alone in this. There is someone here for them.
Lucy – Two things for me: I’d like people to be more aware of the impact their own acts of kindness make on the people around them, inspiring more kindness within our DNEG community and in the people our lives touch; and that kindness extends to looking after yourself too – that taking a care for yourself isn’t selfish but essential.