With the sad news of Caroline Flack’s suicide, it’s been heart warming to see so many people post messages of kindness urging and encouraging others to be kind.
But is that enough? In a world 676,000,000* of us are dealing with a mental health issue. In the UK 1 in 6 of us have a mental health issue right now, and 1 in 4 will experience a mental health problem this year, then it seems we have a global need to show more kindness, compassion and empathy to others.
Sadly Caroline’s suicide is not a unique story, 1 in 5 of us have had suicidal thoughts at some time. In 2017 in the UK, 5487 people took their lives by suicide, an average of more than 15 people every day, and its estimated that 10-25 times more than that figure attempted suicide.
We have a mental health crisis and whilst fingers can be pointed at the media, increasing demands on an overburdened NHS and lack of community support, all of which certainly have merit. All of this finger pointing also enables us to say the problem is outside of us and therefore we have little or no power to change things. I do not believe this.
For the world to change, we need to change, no longer should we accept that broken systems result in broken people without making changes ourselves. Maybe we need to return to a simpler time of valuing communities more, slowing down to really listen to people, making eye contact on public transport. In a world where we are more connected than ever, people also express more loneliness than ever before.
So my challenge to you is simple, it’s one I’ve set myself and I beg you to come on board. Instead of just posting about being kind, ask yourself “how can I be kinder in my life?”
Maybe you can let that car out in front of you, maybe you can smile, maybe you can wait for the answer when you ask someone “how are you?”.
What things can you do to make the world a better place? Maybe you speak critically of others, maybe you judge people, maybe you’re impatient, maybe you’re too busy. I know I can certainly be guilty of these things and from today am working on being a little less of them.
Of course, kindness really begins when we understand that to make a change it needs to start with us, we need to first be kinder to ourselves because the reality is “hurt people, hurt people” so to begin with, let’s be less critical, judgemental, impatient, busy and harsh on ourselves and then extend it to those we meet.
It’s not easy, it’s a challenging world where everyone is struggling with something but if we could all pledge to take “kind action” then maybe, just maybe, things really could change. Kindness indeed, begins with you.
*All mental health statistics sourced from www.mhfaengland.org