Mental Health Awareness Week 2020

Student Advisory & Wellbeing' plans for Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation this year's Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place from Monday 18 - Sunday 24 May and the theme is kindness.

The Mental Health Foundation has chosen kindness as the theme for MHAW this year because of it's singular ability to unlock our shared humanity.  Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity.  It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health.  Wisdom from every culture across history recognises that kindness is something that all human beings need to experience and practise to be fully alive.  

MHAW 2020


Monday 18 May - Kindness challenge

 "You can always give something even if it is only kindness"
Ann Frank

Kindness Challenge

Whilst we are all distancing ourselves from friends and family to help the fight against the pandemic there is still a lot we can do to help each other and to help ourselves.  As the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness we are setting you all a challenge to complete one random act of kindness each day this week!  Whether it be making someone you live with a cup of tea or texting your friends to see how they are, every random act of kindness makes a huge difference! Being kind has been proven to not only make the receiver feel good but also the person doing the kind act.  Share with is your random acts of kindness this week on social media using the hashtag #RHWellbeing.  We'll share these on our Instagram stories.

Be kind and compassionate to yourself

by Jane Gittins, Primary Care Mental Health Practitioner, Student Advisory & Wellbeing

We are often our harshest critic and have our own critical and strict inner voice that speaks to us when we have perhaps not achieved the grade or goal we set ourselves or made a mistake.

Sometimes we are self-critical because of past experiences or feeling like it helps to motivate you.

Take a moment to think about how your critical voice sounds to you?  What are they saying? What language do they use and what tone does it take?

  • Is this voice helpful and encouraging or judgemental, harsh and strict?
  • How does this voice impact on your mood, feelings and outlook?
  • Is this how you would speak to a friend?

We must remember as humans we are continually learning; learning from experiences, mistakes and success etc.  Therefore, it is important that we begin to be more kind and compassionate to ourselves to help us continue our journey and growth.  Encouraging ourselves to feel good about exploring, taking chances, stepping out of our comfort zones and moving forward.

Think for a moment how life would be if we were all more compassionate to ourselves and how that would impact on those around us?

Some tips on becoming more self-caring and compassionate

  1. Learn to accept and acknowledge that critical voice, label the comments ‘there goes those critical comments again’ and let them go.  Don’t engage with the feeling.
  2. Give your compassionate voice more ‘airtime’, allow it to step in and speak.
  3. Develop gentle, soothing and encouraging language.
  4. Become less judgemental of yourself.  Allow yourself to feel angry, upset or sad.  Let your compassionate voice tell you that ‘it is OK to feel like that, you are only human and it’s understandable’
  5. Be gentle with yourself when you feel upset or scared.
  6. Think of the values that you would apply to friends and the people that you care about.  How would you apply these to yourself?
  7. Treat yourself as you would a friend.  What would you say to your friend if they made a mistake or didn’t get top results?
  8. Loosen some of your strict rules you have for yourself.  Give yourself permission to be human, recognise your efforts.
  9. Offer yourself praise, become your own coach or mentor.
  10. Find ways to do your best within any given situation that you find yourself in,  are there any positives e.g. are you getting to do anything which you wouldn’t normally be able to do?
  11. Keep a gratitude diary and think of 3 positive things that have happened each day.  This helps us cultivate appreciation for the simple and small things in life.
  12. Allow yourself to do something nurturing for you each day, something that you enjoy and perhaps gain a sense of achievement from.  Create that time and space for you.
  13. Reach out and connect with friends and others.
  14. An act of kindness to someone. Perhaps volunteer in some way? Or just send some kind words to a friend or someone you care about?
  15. Look after your body.  Exercise (an activity that you enjoy) and eat healthy as much as you can.  Studies have shown the positive impact of healthy eating and exercise on our moods, especially those suffering with depression.
  16. Take time to rest and relax, giving your mind and body chance to re-charge and replenish energy levels.

Keep a journal and notice how you feel when you become more compassionate to yourself. What shifts do you recognise and how does it impact on your responses to situations and outcomes, friendships and relationships? 

What voice would you now prefer to listen too?

Remember to practice your compassion voice every day as it’s like developing a muscle group in your body, it will only get stronger the more you use it!

The kinder you become to yourself, the more you will create a ripple effect around you.

Tuesday 19 May - Online meditation | Kindness by Post

"Brilliant things happen in calm minds.  Be calm.  You're brilliant."

Online Meditation & Relaxation

Jane, our Primary Care Mental Health Practioner, will be leading a session of meditation and relaxation which you can join online.  Meditation is proven to help reduce stress, control anxiety, promote emotional wellbeing and generate kindness and is a great way to be kind to yourself.

Click here to view and participate in this session.

Kindness by Post

This is an amazing idea established by the Mental Health Collective where it matches strangers from across the UK to exchange cards full of kindness and goodwill.  It is known at the 'biggest secret Santa for random acts of kindness' with over 2,400 people already taking part.  During lockdown, a lot of people are experiencing loneliness due to isolation but Kindness by Post is there to put a smile on someone's face, even during a pandemic!  We challenge you to sign-up and particiapte in the next Kindness by Post challenge as your random act of the kindness fo the day.

Wednesday 20 May - Mindfulness | Physically active

"Be mindful.  Be grateful.  Be Positive. Be true. Be Kind."
Roy. T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart


Staff and students are warmly invited to an online guided mindfulness session at 12:30 on Wednesday through Microsoft Teams. Led by Sofia Mason, this friendly group of colleagues have been meeting in this way three times a week online since social distancing measures began (having previously met on Mondays in the chapel).  The focus of this session will be ‘Gathering the mind, Resting the body’ and no previous experience is necessary - those new to Mindfulness are especially welcome! You can choose to have your video on or off and can contact Sofia with any enquiries. We hope to see you there: Join Microsoft Teams Meeting

"Exercise is the one thing that gets me well again, with depression, it's invaluable. It makes me feel great, just health and active"

Physical activity classes

Keeping physically active has been shown to have numerous positive impacts on our mental wellbeing.  With this in mind, Royal Holloway Sport are delivering free, live workouts via their Facebook page for staff and students to enjoy from the safety of your own home. 

On Wednesday 20t May we want to encourage as many people as possible to take part in these classes to get us all moving and feeling good! The timetable for the day is as follows:

  • Pilates | 8am
  • Legs, Bums, & Tums | 12:15pm
  • Dance Fit | 5:15pm

Simply head over to the Royal Holloway Sport Facebook page at the time of the class.  All you will need is some space, some water and yourselves!

Thursday 21 May - Enactus podcast

"It is (more than ever) important for us to look after ourselves, and each other"
Dr Dominique Thompson, Buzz Consulting

Join the social enterprise society Enactus Royal Holloway, in their podcast discussing mental health during lockdown.  They are joined by Bethany Gale (Mental Health Adviser, Disability & Dyslexia Services) who shares her thoughts on how the pandemic could be effecting student's mental health.  Come listen for ideas on how to be kind to your own mental health and for ways of dealing with anxiety in this pandemic. 

Friday 22 May - Student Wellbeing Virtual Chatroom drop in

"Most people are nice and just want to have a chat"
Ben Nicholas

Join our Wellbeing Advisers,Emma, Kate and Susan on Friday from 11am till 1pm in zoom (see below) for our first ever virtual chatroom drop in. It is your chance to chat with the team about anything and to meet up with other students, make new friends or just have a cup of tea and join in. You can share what you have been doing during lockdown, tell us about volunteering you have done or just come in and have a break from revision.

Zoom link | Meeting ID: 999 4278 5947 | Password: Studentwel

We look forward to meeting you.


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