We are not in the same boat: Why kindness matters more than ever this Mental Health Awareness Week


No matter what you do in life or where you live in the world, the last two months have undoubtedly been very challenging.  Working from home, balancing family needs, finding childcare, keeping in touch with relatives and friends – it is a real juggling act – physically and mentally.

The pandemic can be daunting, so that is why I believe it is so important we all take the time to look after our mental health and why initiatives like Mental Health Awareness Week (18th- 24th May 2020) are essential. Personally, I am inspired every day when I hear the stories of healthcare professionals working on the frontline, giving their all for patient care in the fight against this virus.

As a leader, I also know how important mental health and wellbeing is for my colleagues at NHS Professionals. A poem that has been circulating round the team entitled: “We are not in the same boat” by an unknown author (you can see it here) really brought it home for me.

Although I think it is important to be “in this together”, both personally and professionally, it is also important to acknowledge that everyone is going through a different journey, “in a different boat”, even if we are in the same Coronavirus-type sea. As the poem says:

“Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm.  It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance.  Not just looking, actually seeing. We are all on different ships during this storm, experiencing a very different journey so don’t judge others by what’s happening in your boat – we are all just fighting our way through the storm.”

With this in mind, this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) theme of “Kindness” is more important than ever. The fantastic levels of community spirit that have been shown, whether it is simply looking out for a neighbour every now and again, or taking part in the “Clap for Carers” initiative, are so essential. These simple and sometimes random acts of kindness, are really making a difference. Whether at work or at home (or indeed, working from home), showing support and understanding is crucial.

To further support MHAW, I am proud that NHS Professionals have recently introduced a new health and welbeing hub on our website which has a number of resources to help our bank members, corporate staff and any visitors. There are a range of resources from physical and financial health to family activities and of course, personal wellbeing tips. Providing this kind of support at this critical time is key.

Even at our lowest point, it is important to remember that this will eventually pass. The recent commemorations for VE Day remind us that there can be a conclusion and encourage us all to look forward to better times.

Nicola McQueen, CEO, NHS Professionals

#KindnessMatters  #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek