The Breathing Space charity chose the SRUC Barony campus near Dumfries to unveil their theme for 2019: You Matter, We Care.
Speaking at Tuesday’s launch, Breathing Space national co-ordinator Tony McLaren said: “Our theme this year highlights the benefits of kindness and positive relationships and the effect that can have on our mental wellbeing. Making positive emotional connections with others allows us to learn more about ourselves. It helps us to foster kindness and helps build emotional resilience.”
He noted Scotland’s international reputation as a welcoming nation, saying: “We have that reputation of being a small nation with a big heart. “What we would like to encourage everyone is to continue this kindness and caring reputation.
“You can make a positive difference by reaching out and living up to that Scottish spirit. Kindness, compassion and positive relationships not only help us to more readily notice signs of distress in others but can also make a big difference to our own mental wellbeing.”
Breathing Space runs a telephone support helpline and Mr McLaren revealed that last year they received 90,000 calls. He said: “We get 7500 calls a month. People call about depression and anxiety, everyday life distresses, problems at work, relationship issues, isolation and loneliness, money worries.”
Continuing, he added: “Those callers sometimes feel worthless and believe the world would be a better place without them in it. That is where you and I and everyone else in Scotland comes in, particularly when someone is in a dark place, we need to make them think they matter.
The launch was organised in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Health and Wellbeing and specialist Claire Thirlwall gave a local perspective. She said: “Living in a rural area can often be linked to feelings of social isolation and loneliness, with people often finding it difficult to access help.”
February 1 is National Breathing Space Day and Mr McLaren urged everyone to take time out to look after their own mental wellbeing this weekend. He said: “Separate yourself from negativity, do not hang about negative people, give them feedback about their negativity and that it can pull you down.
“Cultivate empathy, be alongside people to let them know that you get what they are saying to you; learn to forgive, it’s a hard one, for those people that hurt us, for whatever reason, how do we find that human capacity to forgive? Care for yourself: if you are feeling low and if speaking to friends and family does not help, there’s always the helpline and we will listen and offer a compassionate response. Talking about it might not take the problem away, but there’s the benefit of how it might make you feel.”