Almost three-quarters of UK adults say it is important that we learn from the coronavirus pandemic to be more kind as a society

18th May 2020
  • Almost three-quarters of UK adults (72 per cent) say it is important we learn from the coronavirus pandemic to be more kind as a society.
  • Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of UK adults say that when people are kind to them, it has a positive impact on their mental health.
  • Almost two-thirds of UK adults (63 per cent) say that being kind to others has a positive impact on their mental health.
  • Charity recommends targeted “kindness tests”, including equality, dignity and respect to be applied in creating and reviewing public policy.

Almost three-quarters of UK adults say it is important that we learn from the coronavirus pandemic to be more kind as a society, according to a new survey.

The survey was published by the Mental Health Foundation to mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, which this year has the theme of Kindness.

Two-thirds of people say that when others are kind to them, it has a positive impact on their mental health, according to the survey of 4,256 UK adults aged 18 and above.

Two-thirds of UK adults also say that being kind to others has a positive impact on their mental health.

The charity has launched a report showing the evidence base for the impact of kindness on mental health and a policy paper making recommendations on how kindness can be turned into action. 

Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation Mark Rowland said: “The evidence for the positive impact of kindness on protecting and improving mental health has always been clear. Our own survey has shown there is powerful support from the UK public for a kinder approach.

“At one level, kindness can be as simple as phoning a friend who is lonely or thanking a colleague for something they have done. However, to have a major impact on improving our mental health, we need to take kindness seriously as a society. In particular, we need to make kindness an important part of public policy.

“The pandemic is an opportunity to do that. Kindness can play an essential role in reducing the social, economic and mental health consequences of the crisis, that could last for years to come.”

The survey also found that almost half of UK adults (48 per cent) said being kind “to myself” had a positive impact on their mental health.

The charity is making a series of recommendations on kindness. They include recommending that all Government departments apply a measurable, values-based kindness test to current and new policies. This is to ensure they are informed by kindness, equality, dignity and respect.

Mr Rowland added: “We need to challenge the idea that kindness has no relevance to government and public policy. Instead, we want to start taking kindness seriously in how we shape political decision-making at all levels.

“Kindness has a role to play in how we run our welfare services, our justice system and our health system. To achieve this, we need to include a fundamental test for all existing and new policies – are they kind?

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-imagine a kinder society – one that protects all our mental health and especially that of the most vulnerable.”

The Mental Health Foundation organises and hosts Mental Health Awareness Week every year. The week runs from 18th to 24th May and is now in its 20th year.

Mental Health Awareness Week is marked in different ways by organisations and individuals. This year, the Foundation is asking people to share their stories of kindness during the Week on social media and also their ideas for how we can build a kinder society, using #KindnessMatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.

Visit for more information.


Notes to editors:

Interviews with spokespeople are available on request.

Case Studies

Full stories, interviews, images and videos for the following case studies are available on request:

  • Dr Suba Thiyagalingam, Locum Doctor in A&E from North London has been working throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and can share her experiences of kindness in recent times.
  • Kohliah Roberts, 35, grew up in Lewisham. He is a counsellor and shares an example of how kindness an act of kindness marked a major turning point in his life as a 14-year-old boy.
  • Rev Georgina Bondzi-Simpson MBE is a Methodist minister serving in High Wycombe, and in charge of two churches. She was recently called to be at the bedside of a family friend in ICU, who died due to Covid-19. She shares her thoughts on the positive effects of kindness.
  • Alistair Potter, 52 is a Safeguarding Practitioner for Shropshire Council. He ran a marathon in his garden to fundraise for the Mental Health Foundation on the day Brighton Marathon was set to go ahead.
  • Bob Skinner, 93 lives in Sunrise Care Home in Cardiff. He is an ex-journalist and writes a daily diary about his life. Bob has written a blog in which thanks his carers (his friends) who help make his life interesting and happy through their kindness. 
  • Josh Elton from Cardiff is a Group Facilitator for Standing Together Cymru – a project which aims to improve mental health, wellbeing and build community connections in later life through peer support groups. Since lockdown, the project has continued to keep these groups in touch and many stories of kindness have emerged in their conversations.


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4,246 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24-26th April 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

About Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week is the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health and mental health problems and inspire action to promote the message of good mental health for all. Mental Health Awareness Week has been run by the Mental Health Foundation since 2001. Promotional material about the Week, advice about kindness and mental health, and policy and evidence papers on why kindness matters, are all available. 

About the Mental Health Foundation

The Mental Health Foundation is the leading charity for everyone’s mental health. With prevention at the heart of what we do, we aim to find and address the sources of mental health problems so that people and communities can thrive.

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