Mental Health, Conflict and Kindness

23 May 2020 By Andrew Boyd, Mediator

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, with this year’s theme being ‘kindness’.

In 2015 I wrote a blog for the SCCR which I called ‘Conflict & Mental Health – a chicken and egg situation?’ When we are struggling with conflict, our mental health can suffer but also when our mental health is poor, our ability to manage conflict effectively, can be compromised. I’ve been reflecting during Mental Health Awareness Week and I’m now adding kindness into the mix.

Kindness is central to our mental health and particularly when we are under great stress, kindness can bring people together. When we are kind to others or kindness is shown to us, our emotional wellbeing improves. Kindness has perhaps never been more important and can be key to managing and resolving conflict. We can all hopefully think of times during this lockdown period when our mental health has benefited from either giving or receiving acts of kindness.

So how does kindness integrate into our relationship between conflict and our mental health? Conflict is challenging for all of us and managing it can sometimes feel a step too far and so we avoid dealing with things, but rarely does the conflict go away and left unresolved it can often seem more difficult to address. Often when we avoid conflict our mental health can be severely compromised.

On the other hand when we do address the issues and get things resolved, it feels really great. Resolution positively impacts our mental health. When we add kindness into the conflict resolution mix we often see and feel a change in dynamics. When we communicate in a kind manner the messages become easier to actively listen to and it is easier to take the other persons views on board. It’s not about agreeing, compromising or not playing hard-ball but introducing the human element can make all the difference, with the potential for better mental health for all those involved.

So when we nudge out of lockdown, what will our new normal look like? There are some elements which we will have little control over but there are many more elements which we will have control over. Do we want to just go back to the old normal or do we want to have a better normal where kindness is more integral to what we do and say?