Sandy MacLean, CDN’s Lead of Curriculum and Teaching, explains why Kindness matters now more than ever…

The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, which takes place from 18-24 May, is the power and potential of kindness. This could be the most important week that the Mental Health Foundation has hosted, not least because protecting our mental health is going to be central to us coping with and recovering from the Coronavirus pandemic. The physical impact of this virus is and will continue to be devastating, but it is likely that the social and psychological impact will far outlast the physical.

Kindness is central to our mental health as it unlocks our shared humanity and at times of great stress has the potential to bring us together. This is clearly supported by research which shows that acts of kindness, whether we are giving or receiving it, can improve emotional wellbeing (Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation).

The call during Mental Health Awareness week is to reflect on acts of kindness. In recent weeks and months we have seen countless examples of ‘kindness in action’ within the college sector. Staff and students are directly helping to save lives on the front line, reaching out to the communities that they are central to, going above and beyond, despite the difficult personal circumstances many find themselves in.

Colleges the length and breadth of Scotland are donating essential supplies to food banks, hand sanitisers to local social care partners, and using their skills and expertise and 3D printers to make additional visors. They are providing other protective equipment such as disposable gloves, face masks, safety goggles and aprons to front line services. In some cases, they have made their cooking facilities available to front line staff and provided NHS staff with ‘remote working’ equipment. This is over and above responding to the needs of their students and staff within their own college communities.

As well as all this many students and staff have joined the bank of volunteers supporting social care organisations, Police Scotland and NHS Scotland. They are using their considerable skills in telecoms, administration, graphic design and social care to make a real difference. Others have offered their services through Volunteer Scotland, the British Red Cross and other community organisations local to their colleges. Amid the fear there are very clear examples of community, support and hope and there will be many, many random acts of ‘quiet kindness’ going on unseen from the privacy of our own homes.

During this rollercoaster ride that is lockdown, it is clear that for those of us who are not key workers, the ultimate act of kindness is to distance ourselves from our family and friends and stay at home. Finally, we can’t focus on the power and potential of kindness without shining a light on the importance of self-kindness and self-care at this challenging time. This is absolutely key in improving our emotional wellbeing and protecting our mental health.

Here are some wonderful examples of ‘kindness in action’ by Scotland’s colleges…

 

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