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Doncaster residents are being asked to change the way they think and act about mental health during Mental Health Awareness Week from 18 to 24 May.

The annual national campaign aims to raise awareness of mental health and inspire action to reduce the stigma faced by people experiencing a mental health problem.

This year’s theme is kindness, recognising and celebrating how acts of goodwill are so important to mental health.

Local GP Dr Dean Eggitt said: “One of the five ways to wellbeing is to ‘give’ which is an act of kindness. Our mental health and wellbeing is incredibly important all of the time, but now more than ever as we all face the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic. My message to people is that you are not alone, and it’s incredibly important that we all practice kindness by offering to listen and check in with family and friends.”

Throughout Doncaster there have been some wonderful acts of kindness by communities to help others in times of need during the lockdown. From rainbows adorning windows to entertain children on their daily walks, through to keen sewers making laundry bags for health care staff; there have been some touching moments of kindness which help more than just those on the receiving end. Across primary care, NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group staff, local practices, GPs and the wider workforce, people continue to go above and beyond.

Dr Eggitt said: “People may think that an act of kindness is a one way transaction of someone benefiting from that gesture - but it’s not. Doing something kind for someone has a feel good factor to it for everyone involved because it makes you feel like you’ve created some good and helped someone else. In our jobs as healthcare professionals, we help people because we enjoy seeing people get better but that reward is just as fulfilling for us as it is relief for those in need.”

Primary care staff have been working incredibly hard during the outbreak of Coronavirus with many helping vulnerable patients connect with local services which can provide support during lockdown. During a phone call with an elderly patient, Practice Manager Allison Edgeler at Oakwood Surgery, discovered they were incredibly isolated and starting to struggling with food supplies as they had no one to bring groceries.

Allison said: “Hearing how this patient was struggling to live as she had very little support or family nearby during lockdown was heart-breaking. My team and I did a quick whip round and dropped some essentials on her doorstep whilst contacting the Doncaster Community Hub to arrange support for such tasks.

“The biggest lesson for me was that not everyone is on social media or can buy a newspaper to find out what support is available for our vulnerable residents. If you know of an elderly person who isn’t connected to the local news, drop a copy of the paper round or print off the Doncaster Council newsletters as that act of kindness could help someone else immensely.

“I’d like to thank all of our surgery staff for the hard work they do each and every day, they are all amazing and are working relentlessly with compassion and kindness throughout this challenging time.”

If you would like to find out more information about how the Doncaster Hub can help vulnerable residents please call them on 01302 430300.