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Health Director blogs all things kindness and mental health

An update from Julie Webster, Wirral's Director of Public Health.

Dear resident,

Taking care of our mental and physical health is important. But now more than ever many of us may be feeling a little or a lot of strain due to social distancing and other measures we are taking to keep us safe and well.

This week we are marking Mental Health Awareness Week whose theme for 2020 is ‘Kindness’.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, “Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health.” I couldn’t agree more.

Throughout the pandemic, kindness has thrived in Wirral. Since the first repatriated Brits isolated at Arrowe Park Hospital were inundated with support in January, onto donations of food and PPE to Wirral’s Emergency Distribution Centre and every random act of kindness in between. Kindness has prevailed and strengthened our communities across the borough.

But while we focus on community spirit and compassion, it’s sometimes a little harder to be kind to ourselves. Giving to others, I’m sure many of you will agree, can be easier than practicing self-care – especially during this time of global uncertainty.

During this awareness week, I want to encourage everybody reading this to be a little less harsh on themselves. Whether you’re working from home, self-isolating, juggling little ones, furloughed, on the frontline – being kind to yourself is key.

It is easier said than done, but there are some resources you can use:

  1. The Every Mind Matters website offers easy to use and interactive resources to help you with emotional wellbeing, physical activity and sleep. The Your Mind Plan Quiz is tailored to the COVID-19 outbreak and contains tips and tricks tailored to your answers.
  2. Stay Well Wirral Facebook and Twitter pages have been posting resources and conversation starters. Check out their ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ posts this week.
  3. Stay connected. The Wirral InfoBank is an online resource to help residents find support services in their local area, especially during COVID-19. You can use their simple search tool to find mental health support and more.
  4. Headspace have developed a number of resources called Weathering the storm.
  5. Unable to connect online? The Silver Line is the only free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people, open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. You can contact them on 0800 4 70 80 90.

And, as our mental, emotional and physical health are so linked, I must urge all of you to continue to do these three things to help protect yourself and others from COVID-19:

  • Stay at least 2m distance from others outside of your household group – or ‘social distancing’.
  • Wash your hands more often than usual – with soap and water (or hand sanitiser).
  • Stay home as much as possible – and isolate if you have symptoms of the virus (fever and/or a new and continuous cough and/or loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste).

Stay up to date with the latest guidance at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Thanks again for keeping up with my updates. Stay safe, stay well.

Best wishes,

Julie Webster - Director of Public Health for Wirral.