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Senate House Library

Kindness in a crisis: Mental Health Awareness Week at Senate House Library


Emma Fitzpatrick, SHL Wellbeing Collection Team, guides you through the resources available to care for your mental health and the mental health of others...

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 - Image courtesy of Mental Health Foundation

This Mental Health Awareness week (18-24 May 2020) finds us all in uncharted waters, with our lives and routines massively altered due to the outbreak of Coronavirus. It's especially important in this time for us all to pause and take care of our mental health as well as the mental health of others and that is why this year’s theme is kindness.

This year’s Mental Health Awareness week offers us the opportunity to reflect on how being kind not only has a positive effect on others but also on our own mental health and wellbeing.

It's a good opportunity for us as Librarians to think about how we can support Mental Health Awareness through our collections and resources. At Senate House Library one of the key ways that we do this is through our Wellbeing Collection. While the Library building is closed, many of the resources from the Wellbeing Collection are still available online and this blog offers you a guide to exploring it.

Doing good does you good

The extraordinary circumstances that we find ourselves in have led to some really wonderful demonstrations of kindness in the last few weeks. There are people volunteering to shop for neighbours who are self-isolating or shielding, amazing individuals walking marathons in their back gardens to raise money for the NHS and of course the Clap for Carers. All this helps support the incredible kindness and courage shown by all of our NHS staff, carers and frontline services in providing critical care for those worst effected by Coronavirus but also our own wellbeing.

The Mental Health Foundation, who organise Mental Health Awareness week, have published a guide called Doing Good Does You Good, about the benefits of altruism and how you can introduce small acts of kindness into your day

Be Kind to yourself as well

At this unusual time when we are all out of our usual routines with many of us working from home and taking on additional caring responsibilities, I believe that it is really important to be kind to ourselves as well. If you are having a bad day try to accept that you are having a bad day and instead of being down on yourself try to be kind to yourself. Do small but enriching things to nurture yourself, such as: 

  • Eating a piece of fruit or other nutritious food 
  • Doing controlled breathing exercises & stretching to realign posture
  • Taking a break from your screen - books are perfect for this!
  • Making yourself a cup of tea
  • Getting some fresh air
Stock image

The SHL Wellbeing Collection is here to support you

If you are looking for support and advice on issues that are affecting your wellbeing while the building is closed, Senate House Library has created a dedicated Wellbeing Collection Online webpage that groups all of the online resources such as e-books, links and audio guides from the wider Wellbeing Collection. Here are a few highlights:

Mind over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think Dennis Greenberger and Christine A Padesky
The upward spiral : using neuroscience to reverse the course of depression, one small change at a time Alex Korb, Ph.D
The Recovery Letters: Addressed to People Experiencing Depression Olivia Sagan, James Withey, and Tom Couser
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Your Toolkit to Modify Mood, Overcome Obstructions and Improve Your Life Elaine Iljon Foreman et al

Wellbeing guides & resources

Included in the SHL Wellbeing Collection online you will find links to a number of helpful resources from a range of organisations that provide Wellbeing guides and advice. Here are some highlights: offers advice on mindfulness and meditation with a focus on helping people to reduce anxiety.

NHS wellbeing audio guides are helpful 10 minute guides which have been designed to help boost your mood. These audio guides give advice on a coping with a range of problems including low mood, anxiety and sleep problems. is a great source of advice for mental health and wellbeing and have online guides to address things like stress and sleep problems. 

These are just a few highlights from the many resources available - you can explore more on the SHL Wellbeing Collection online

If you have any questions or suggestions, we'd love to hear from you - email the Wellbeing collection team on

Emma Fitzpatrick, Wellbeing Collection Team & 
Serial and Digital Resources Coordinator