Could a kinder Scotland help reduce anxiety and depression?

A survey carried out by the British Red Cross has found that most of us believe we can all be kinder to each other.

Three out of four people surveyed in Scotland admitted they could do more to be kinder to others, with 98% agreeing that if we all did one kind thing a day, the UK would be a better place.

Preventing people from feeling lonely ranked top for the difference people would most like to make. Among the small acts of kindness people shared that had a big impact were:

  • A stranger at a petrol pump lending them 2p when they had no cash and were just over the £30 limit to use contactless
  • Friends who’d only ever met on Twitter sending another Twitter friend a box of goodies to cheer them up when they were ill
  • A neighbour nipping next door to re-plant a rose bush that had died, as a surprise
  • Coming home to a houseful of happy post-it note messages from a flatmate
  • Being met at the door with a… cheesecake after a particularly bad day at work

Alongside the survey, the British Red Cross is launching its One Kind Thing campaign, encouraging everyone in Scotland to do something kind to support its work.

From donating money, time or unwanted clothes, to taking part in an event, the charity is inviting us all to choose ‘one kind thing’ to make sure its volunteers can keep connecting people in crisis with people’s kindness, across Scotland and the world.

“The British Red Cross connects people in crisis with people who want to help,” says Zoë Abrams, Executive Director for Communications and Advocacy at the British Red Cross.

“We reach out when people need us most so they know they don’t have to face their challenges alone. These survey results show the Scottish public believe we can all manage to do one kind thing, and it doesn’t have to be grand scale to make a real difference.

“Even the simplest acts of kindness can start to remove some of the fear and anxiety we all feel when faced with adversity, however big or small. That’s as true in refugee camps thousands of miles away as it is on a street here in Scotland.  It’s heartening to see how strongly people recognise that; now we must mobilise and empower one other to create a kinder nation.”

Clinical psychologist, Dr Sarah Davidson, heads up a team of British Red Cross staff and volunteers trained to support people wherever they are in the world when crisis hits.

“Increasingly we’re seeing how emotional support is as vital as water, food, shelter and cash, to help people start to recover,” she says.

“And kindness is at the heart of that because it connects us to each other. Whether you’ve lost your home, your relative or your livelihood, having another human being notice your pain and be kind to you helps break through feelings of pain, loneliness and isolation.

“It may not change your situation immediately but it can reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. It’s a two-way process. Whether you’re experiencing kindness or being kind, both of you feel valued and better able to cope.”

The British Red Cross offers practical and emotional support to people in crisis in the UK on average every four hours. From major disasters to looking after people who’ve lost their homes in a fire or flood, it sees every day how small acts of kindness can make a vast difference to how people cope.

Internationally, its volunteers support people in the face of natural disasters and epidemics, as well as those forced from their homes through hunger, poverty, and conflict. Very often those volunteers are victims of the same extreme circumstances themselves.

Find out more about the One Kind Thing campaign by searching online for ‘Red Cross One Kind Thing’. You can also get involved on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Linked In, using the hashtag #OneKindThing.

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