Random acts of kindness during the coronavirus outbreak

Page last reviewed: 11 September 2020

The Mental Health Foundation is part of the national mental health response during the coronavirus outbreak. Government advice designed to keep us safe is under constant review and will be different depending on where you live: more details and up to date information here.

The coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) has taken a lot of us by surprise. Some people have described it as an episode of Black Mirror that they want to turn off, while others have said that they feel like the entire world is upside down. 

If you are finding that you are struggling to look after your mental health as a result of the current outbreak, then read our tips

So where do random acts of kindness come in?

One thing that we have seen all over the world is that kindness is prevailing in uncertain times. People are coming together to sing on balconies in Italy, others are setting up groups to offer support to the elderly or vulnerable - like collecting groceries or calling them for a chat. We have heard stories of people having virtual movie nights and creating choreographed dances over video chat to share with the world.

We have learnt that amid the fear, there is also community, support and hope

The added benefit of helping others is that it is good for our own mental health and wellbeing. It can help reduce stress and improve your emotional wellbeing. In short, doing good does you good.

Acts of kindness make the world a happier place

The government is telling us to stay at home and only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work, to stay two metres (six feet) away from other people and wash our hands as soon as we get home. This will mean that more of us will be spending a lot of time at home and many of our regular social activities will no longer be available to us.

It will help to try and see this as a different period of time in your life, and not necessarily a bad one, even though you didn’t choose it. And there are still lots of things that we can do for other people to inspire kindness in unforeseen times:

  1. Pick an item from the list below
  2. Take action
  3. Share the kindness on social media
  4. Tag @mentalhealth on Twitter and @mentalhealthfoundation on Instagram and Facebook
  5. Use the hashtag #coronavirusKindness

Get involved with random acts of kindness

  • Call a friend that you haven’t spoken to for a while
  • Tell a family member how much you love and appreciate them
  • Make a cup of tea for someone you live with
  • Arrange to have a cup of tea and virtual catch up with someone you know
  • Help with a household chore at home
  • Arrange to watch a film at the same time as a friend and video call
  • Tell someone you know that you are proud of them
  • Tell someone you know why you are thankful for them
  • Send a motivational text to a friend who is struggling
  • Send someone you know a joke to cheer them up
  • Send someone you know a picture of a cute animal
  • Send an inspirational quote to a friend
  • Send an interesting article to a friend
  • Contact someone you haven’t seen in a while and arrange a phone catch up
  • Spend time playing with your pet
  • Reach out to call a friend, family member or neighbour who is experiencing loneliness or self-isolation
  • Donate to a charity
  • Lend your ear – call a colleague and ask how they’re finding the change in routine
  • Give praise to your colleague for something they’ve done well
  • Arrange to have a video lunch with a colleague
  • Send an inspirational story of kindness people around the world are doing for others to someone you know
  • Donate to foodbanks
  • Offer to skill share with a friend via video call - you could teach guitar, dance etc.
  • Offer support to vulnerable neighbours
  • Offer to send someone a takeaway or a meal

Want to learn more about how doing good does you good? Read our guide here. 

The Mental Health Foundation is committed to bringing readers reliable and relevant information. All of our pages are written and regularly reviewed by our mental health experts, in line with official advice on the coronavirus outbreak.

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Public Health England have developed explicit guidance on mental health in the crisis. If you want to develop a personalised plan for supporting your mental health you can also visit the PHE Every Mind Matters site, developed in collaboration with the Mental Health Foundation.

If you need to talk confidentially you can call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time. We also have a resource on how to get help for your mental health.