Mental health professionals share the power of kindness to achieve good wellbeing

Kindness is a powerful tool for helping both adults and children to achieve good personal wellbeing, stressed mental health specialists during ACS International School Cobham’s ‘The world needs… Kindness warriors’ event, which took place during Children’s Mental Health Week 2022.

ACS student reading outdoors on a green lawn
Addressing an audience of parents and students, Dr Radha Modgil, BBC Radio 1 presenter, author and wellbeing expert, explained that kindness is a life source for mental and emotional health – like a plant needs water – and urged that being kind is not a “weakness” or a “soft-skill”, it is essential for our own personal happiness as well as other people’s.Children’s mental health has come sharply into the spotlight recently, with research showing a 77% rise in the number of children needing specialist treatment for severe mental health issues. Dr Radha spoke about kindness as a key tool for both children and adults’ self-care and, importantly, highlighted that when we are not in a positive mindset ourselves – if we are hungry, tired or stressed – it becomes increasingly difficult to be kind to others.She advised parents and children to “start small” by being gentler to themselves, and with time this will become habit and part of the natural process to achieving good personal wellbeing while treating others well too.Building on Dr Radha’s discussions, Dr Essam Daod, a Child Psychiatrist and Co-Founder of Humanity Crew, a mental health aid organisation that prevents trauma with displaced children and their families through emergency psychological interventions and training, explained that, based on his experience of working with refugees in Greece, “the best thing you can do for your own wellbeing is to give to others”.Further emphasising the importance of self-kindness, Dr Essam, who recently appeared on a documentary with Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey destigmatising mental health, honestly disclosed how, during his first trip to a refugee camp, he had to leave after three weeks due to the trauma he was experiencing and to protect his own mental health. “I knew I had to look after myself so I went back home. Others buried their suffering, they burnt out and didn’t look after their mental health because they thought they had to keep going. But if they had taken care of themselves, they could have helped hundreds of others.”When asked what parents can do to support their children’s wellbeing, particularly in the context of pandemic burnout, Dr Essam advised: “As much as possible, parents should encourage their children to be involved with projects where they are giving to others. This isn’t about teaching children to give money though, children need to learn about the importance of sharing and solidarity, as this is what is key to improving their mental health. Barnaby Sandow, Head of School, ACS Cobham, said: “It was a real privilege to welcome Dr Essam Daod and Dr Radha Modgil to share their expertise and experiences of how small acts of kindness – directed at both ourselves and others – are intrinsically linked to our health and wellbeing. Young people have faced an incredibly difficult couple of years, and while they have shown enormous resilience, it is now that they are starting to burn out. With exams just around the corner, providing tools for how young people can look after their mental health has never been more important. “As highlighted by our fantastic speakers, the more kindness we offer and receive, the happier and more fulfilled we feel and the more energy and motivation we have to achieve and solve life’s challenges.  This is why we need ‘Kindness warriors’ and why, at ACS Cobham, we are investing in the wellbeing of our next generation, so that they have the power to make positive change. ACS Cobham is currently building a new ‘Ready to Thrive’ wellbeing centre for its students, which will provide a dedicated space to support students with all areas of their wellbeing, with facilities and services ranging from learning support and organisational coaching, to on-site personal counselling, to careers advice and interview training. The world needs… Kindness warriors’ is the second in ACS International Schools’ new series of ‘What the World Needs’ events, which this year focuses on building a sustainable future. ACS International School CobhamFar more than just a school, ACS International School Cobham is a friendly, vibrant international community with a global outlook that guides our world-renowned curriculum. Based on US educational best practice, we offer a new kind of learning for a new kind of world citizen. Our goal is as simple as it is inspiring: to make our students ready for the challenges of tomorrow, so they thrive at every stage of their lives.We are home to 1,200 students aged 2 to 18 from over 60 countries, cared for and taught by 300 expert faculty and staff members.Our students are encouraged to tailor their studies to suit their talents and ambitions, while a wealth of outstanding support amenities help deliver a well-rounded educational experience. Equally important is our beautiful, leafy campus, just 30 minutes from central London. Our location offers students the best of both worlds – the stimulation of one of the world’s great cities, combined with the charms of the English countryside.Unique amongst our four schools, ACS Cobham offers boarding as an option for students aged 12 to 18, who enjoy state-of-the-art facilities in our recently-opened boarding house.

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