This week is Mental Health Awareness Week.

It is a subject that has become far more widely spoken about in recent years and that can only be a good thing. But we can never do too much to raise awareness of the importance of looking after our mental health.

I know that everyone, for their own personal reasons, will have found the past two months difficult. You may be self-isolating alone and finding an extensive period away from friends and family challenging. You could be finding the sudden lack of a school or work routine is making you feel isolated and lost. Or you could be finding each day difficult without face to face contact with your own support system of colleagues, friends or family.

Whatever your struggles, it is important to know that help and support remains available for you during these difficult times. You are not alone. In fact, the more we talk about it, the more we are likely to find others who may be feeling exactly the same way.

Over the past two months, it has been the simple acts of kindness made by members of the public that have inspired us all. I have seen the handmade cards of thanks from local children dropped off at police stations and like you, I have been inspired by the acts of courage on the national news including that of Colonel Tom Moore who has raised millions for the NHS.

This year, it is therefore fitting that the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness. Kindness can strengthen relationships, develop communities and deepen solidarity. No doubt we have all been touched by a small act of kindness in our lifetime and I think we can all remember how that gesture made us feel. We should never underestimate the power of being kind and how it can impact on someone who may be struggling.

Professionals nationally have expressed concerns that those suffering with mental illness may not be getting the support they need during lockdown, either through fear of seeking help, a reluctance to speak out or a misunderstanding of what services remain available. At a time when the need for support is likely to be greater than ever, it is really crucial that we spread the word far and wide that support is available.

A directory of services and organisations which can help can be found here:

You can download the Every Mind Matters App to create your personalised Mind Plan here: