The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week, taking place this week from Monday 18 May - Sunday 24 May, has been changed to ‘Kindness’ in light of the ongoing situation with COVID-19.
Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week wishes to draw attention to kindness prevailing all over the world at a time of great uncertainty and confusion.
Mental Health Foundation Chief Executive Mark Rowland said: “We have chosen kindness because of its 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.”
Kindness is defined by doing something for others, motivated by a genuine desire to make a positive difference. Research shows that kindness and our mental health are deeply connected; kindness is an antidote to isolation and creates a sense of belonging. It helps reduce stress, brings a fresh perspective and deepens friendships. Kindness to ourselves can prevent shame from corroding our sense of identity and help boost our self-esteem. Kindness can even improve feelings of confidence and optimism.
Consequently, here at SAE, we are taking this opportunity to focus on kindness during Mental Health Awareness Week, and we offered our staff the opportunity to share a moment where they have experienced kindness, or to share something kind about their colleagues. Here’s what everyone had to say:
SAE Glasgow Student Recruitment Officer Amy Gilmour said: “When I experienced a bereavement a colleague went above and beyond to help me feel better and return to work. Not only sending flowers but being there for emotional support also.”
Amy added: “I would like to say something kind about Deborah Stewart. She is always willing to lend a helping hand and support her colleagues. She goes above and beyond her role on a daily basis with no gripes. She is also always willing to have a laugh and brightens up the office.”
SAE London Audio Production lecturer Matt Chapman said: “There have been many times where people have given me feedback on my music to help me to grow and improve, just to help and be kind. I am always grateful for this.”
Matt added: “The audio team has been wonderful in welcoming me to my new role. Thank you!”
SAE Glasgow Digital Film Production Programme Coordinator Simon Parnham said: “As an SAE alumnus myself, I'm very aware of that awkward moment between finishing your course and starting off as a professional in the field of film. Throughout that phase, it was the kindness of many people who took a risk on a fledgling videographer that got me work. One particular instance was on one of my first jobs, where a friend who ran his own management training firm was looking for a training video. One minute he was asking me how he could best do it for cheap himself, the next he decided he would want me to do it. He also paid me considerably more than we had agreed as a bonus for my work. It set me up really well.”
Simon added: “My journey has been one from an SAE student, then industry practitioner to film lecturer and now film programme coordinator. Throughout that Dan Ashman has been incredibly supportive. He was my lecturer as a student, major project supervisor, and line manager as a staff member. His ability to put others' needs before his own, and take the time to hear what they have to say with a patient ear has always impressed me. In most areas, he's always been that bit ahead of me in skill and experience, and so he always has been a great example in both character and work for the last 8 years. Goodness me, has it been that long?!”
SAE Oxford Campus Director Richard Peirson said: “Tracey Bennett frequently shows kindness in her role as Student Experience Officer, alongside the core activities associated with the role Tracey is often 'online' with students during evenings and weekends offering support and guidance. Prior to the lockdown it was often into the evening that Tracey was still on campus supporting students, during the lockdown being a regular source of kindness for the students has not stopped - whether that is 5.00 am messages or Sunday phone calls or purchasing flowers, biscuits, playing cards or something else to make a difference for our students.”
SAE Liverpool Academic Student Experience Officer Alex Hannah said: “When I first started within my role, all of my colleagues were super supportive and put up with me asking question after question and supporting me with any issue or problem I may have had. Big thanks to the Academic Team at Liverpool and my wonderful fellow SEO Kelsey Dee-Floyd!”
Alex added: “Kate Corbin is a wonderful human who not only is amazing at her job, making sure that quality and fairness is met in all walks of academic life, but she's a kind and considerate friend who will always have your back and I'm eternally grateful to her.”
SAE London Lead Student Experience Officer Eddie Nwolie said: “I was working with a group of young SEN students, many haircuts ago and I had lost my wallet on a day out. They all insisted on chipping in and buying my lunch. No tears, it was just really windy that day...”
Eddie added: “Angela Nnamchi is quiet and reserved in an often not so quiet and reserved atmosphere. She is able to show who she is and what she is about without having to be like anyone else. Angela has kind and supportive words for students in situations that can be quite stressful for them.”
SAE Glasgow Campus Administrator Debbie Stewart said: “Since starting at SAE Glasgow five months ago, my colleagues have shown me nothing but kindness, from Simon giving me the guided tour when I first arrived, to Nick being my desk buddy and answering all my questions. Tommy with his enthusiasm about the campus and the staff he has. Amy for being my lunch buddy and work bestie, who listens to my daily nonsense and bad singing when we were in the office.”
Debbie added: “To all the staff at SAE Glasgow, thank you for showing me kindness and not making me feel like the new girl. Thank you for going out of your way to make me feel included and part of a wonderful team.”
SAE Oxford Campus Support Technician James Garrett said: “I always experience support from all staff, including management always making time to help.”
James added: “I'd like to thank Nai, who is one of the other CSTs. She helps me daily at work, keeps me from becoming totally stressed, and the way she is with all the students in all subjects brings such a positive vibe to the campus.”
SAE Oxford Student Experience Officer Tracey Bennett said: “Colleagues stepped in to cover teaching when I needed time off to be with my family, despite their own heavy workload, because they appreciated the importance of a special moment in time to me personally.”
Tracey added: “Tom Webber is a second-year audio student at SAE Oxford. Tom always has a smile for everybody and in spite of the challenges we have faced in the current crisis has been happy to go out of his way to say thank you and show appreciation for all the effort that the staff have gone to, to keep the teaching, learning and support going strong. He offers support and kindness to his peers and is a real asset to SAE Oxford.”
SAE Liverpool Student Experience Officer Kelsey Dee-Floyd said: “It was my birthday in April and as we are in lockdown I had nobody to share my cake with and didn't want it going to waste. I left it for those in my apartment block to enjoy (individually wrapped slices prepared with mask and gloves on of course) and someone drew me a birthday card back. It's the little things that keep us going in times like this! Also, the next week someone else left flapjacks for everyone to enjoy... just because. Keeping the community spirit alive and lifting each other with sweet treats!”
Kelsey added: “I would like to mention the whole SAE Liverpool team as they manage to lift my spirits every day even when we are miles apart behind a computer screen. I want to thank them for always being kind and compassionate and for becoming some of the greatest friends I have met in life so far.”
SAE UK Student Experience Manager Adam Lowe said: “When my daughter was born, the Liverpool campus came together to create me a gift basket full of toys, clothes and presents. This was a fantastic gift to receive after a tough time and a lovely act of kindness.”
Adam added: “I’d like to mention my entire team. I’ve never worked with such a fantastic group of individuals with a collective goal to improve the student experience and ensure each and every student is supported throughout their studies. I am so proud of the work they produce and their continuous drive to improve SAE.”
We hope hearing these moments of personal and professional kindness will inspire you to do something kind this week. If you do want to share your act of kindness with the world, then use the hashtags #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek on social media
Find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week here.