Apr 29, 2020

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 : 10 acts of kindness

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, the theme for 2020’s Mental Health Awareness Week (18th — 24th May) is KINDNESS.

To help you support your team, we’ve compiled ’10 Acts of Kindness’. We love these; they are super easy to implement, remote-friendly initiatives that we hope can enable you to celebrate 2020’s Mental Health Awareness Week, despite (or in spite of!) this pesky virus.

1. Create + Share Your ReadMe

We all have ReadMe’s at Unleashed and recommend them to our clients… but what are they?

In essence, a ReadMe is a ‘guide to you’ — a portrayal of who you are, what makes you tick, what motivates (and demotivates) you, how you work best + the areas you’d like to improve in. Creating your ReadMe is also great for self-reflection; something that many of us are doing more of during these unusual times.

We’d love to see people creating + sharing their ReadMe’s with their teammates during Mental Health Awareness Week; after all, enabling those you collaborate with to know more about how best to work with you, support you and communicate with you (and crucially, asking them to share the same with you) truly is an act of kindness. We encourage you to use a slide deck, include photos (if you’d like to — pet photos are always a win!) and really bring your whole self to this.

Here are some things to think about featuring in your ReadMe this Mental Health Awareness Week;

  • your personal values; those that drive your behaviour & decision-making *
  • what makes you happy
  • what causes your anxiety levels to rise
  • how you prefer to give + receive feedback
  • what a sense of connectedness + belonging means for you
  • how people will know if you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed

* For inspiration, you could think about how results-focused or goal-oriented you are, if you are high-trust, crave introspection or are all about boldness, how important humour is to you, if you’re an idealist or a pragmatist (and why!)

For even more inspiration, check out Anouk’s ReadMe that she has shared as part of reflecting on Unleashed turning 3!

2. Send a Thank You Card

It’s not only the big things that deserve a ‘thank you.’ Letting your teammates know that they’re appreciated can — and should — happen more often. The psychology of receiving gifts suggests a lift in the recipient’s mood is guaranteed as long as the gift is appropriate and demonstrates empathy + effort (something hand-written is a great way to do that!) Combine that with a sense of surprise, and you’re looking at a true act of kindness.

Our amazing postal workers are still doing an awesome job enabling us to communicate in non-electronic ways. So why not pop a thank you in the post?

3. Address the ‘Zoom Fatigue’

Yep, it’s a real thing!!

According to The 7% Rule, 93% of the way we communicate with each other is through the words we use.

We’d be lost without the remote collaboration tools we have available to us — they are truly enabling in many ways; however, while we all socially distance and stay safe, we are using these tools for everything from virtual stand-ups to family pub quizzes. Trying to stay connected in a purely virtual way is tiring; our brains are quite literally struggling to process this sense of ‘virtual togetherness’.

Why not address this by trialling a ‘zoom limit’ during Mental Health Awareness Week in pursuit of a healthier balance when it comes to the number of hours spent on virtual calls. (And if this works, then keep it up!)

For more on Zoom Fatigue, check out this article from the BBC

4. Check-in on your teams WFH Setups

What could you add to someone’s WFH set up that would really make an impact whilst they work remotely and are socially distancing? Budget depending, you may not be able to provide everyone with a standing desk setup, but a snazzy addition (something as simple as a new notebook, cushion or desk plant) could really brighten someone’s day.

5. Create an ‘Ask for Help” Slack Channel

Those ‘thanks’ and ‘wins’ channels on Slack are awesome; sharing recognition and surfacing reasons for celebration for the whole team are both great contributors to culture. But how often do your team get the chance to overtly, bravely and openly ask for help? Asking for help is important, in fact, we’d call it crucial; it demonstrates strength (not weakness) and culturally, should feel totally normal. We’d encourage you, during Mental Health Awareness Week, to start as you mean to go on by further embedding the opportunity to ask for help into your culture via an ‘ask for help’ Slack channel.

Of course — and as ever — psychological safety is key, and this one will take involvement from everyone (managers, leaders, C-Suite included) to really establish that psychologically safe space… So, why not get the CEO to go first?

To read more about an ‘asking for help’ culture check out this post from Unleashed’s CEO, Anouk.

6. Pay it Forward

Most of us feel a bit ‘meh’ about LinkedIn recommendations… mainly because we all wonder how many of them are real recommendations (as opposed to the more efficient but nevertheless disingenuous “send me what you’d like me to say, and consider it done!” approach.) How about taking the opportunity to send someone a completely unrequested, 100% genuine, surprise recommendation about why you love working with them?

7. Have a virtual Kind-act-athon

Why not use Mental Health Awareness Week as an opportunity to create your own list of random acts of kindness via a whole company hackathon (a “kind-act-athon”, if you will…) This could be on as small or grand a scale as you like, but we say aim big! Why not work in groups to “hack” ideas that could help you do all you can as a company and a team, to project acts of kindness into the world and give back… For a great example of this, check out the awesome work that our friends at LandTech have done to build LandVolunteer.

Things to think about could be anything from addressing your company’s green credentials to planning your charitable activity for the rest of the year, to a reworked secret Santa; why not assign a budget and do some anonymous gift-giving this Mental Health Awareness Week.

8. ‘Reset’ Hours

One of the opportunities currently being brought to the forefront (and thankfully so in the case of companies and/or leaders who were previously low-trust or slow out of the gates here) is the chance to really embrace flexibility for your team.

We’re all wired differently and have different circumstances to one another, which with schools closed and vulnerable people to look out for, is clearer now than ever before. Naturally, this means we’re all feeling differently too and while we all recognise this, action speaks louder than words.

A super enabling act of kindness would be the introduction of a ‘Reset Hour’ this Mental Health Awareness Week, whereby everyone schedules a daily hour in their diaries, at a time that works for them + their individual current routines; time to really focus, think, reflect or do whatever is needed to feel more in control. The Reset Hour should be sacred — no meetings and no interruptions…

9. Expanding Horizons

Learning is crucial, it’s how we all continuously improve. Not being co-located with your teammates means that a lot of the brilliant ‘learning by osmosis’ that we all benefit from on a day-to-day basis, is made harder in this virtual-first context.

The mechanism is up to you (is this a slack channel or a phone call to someone in your team?) it’s the purpose that’s most important here: prioritising learning.

Enable everyone to share something they’d like to know more about this Mental Health Awareness Week. Your team is full of creative, super intelligent people who are 100% qualified to support their teammates through this act of kindness; either by teaching them about that thing themselves or pointing them in the right direction.

10. Making sure support is on hand

It’s your responsibility as an employer to be in a position to support your team’s mental health. It’s highly unlikely, however, that you are a trained mental health professional or qualified therapist. So, while it’s totally human — and driven from a place of compassion and care — to want to fix things for someone else, it’s potentially dangerous to try to do so. The best way you can help is to listen without judgement + be able to confidently signpost team members that need it to further support.

The biggest act of kindness you can provide this Mental Health Awareness Week is to provide clear, loud and proud signposting for mental health support. To help you, we’ve created a ‘COVID-19 Mental Health + Wellbeing Resources’ document.

The wonderful people at Mental Health First Aid are currently working hard to adapt all their training courses for virtual classrooms, and the great news is that their half-day course is already approved for virtual delivery! Find out more and sign-up here.

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