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Does kindness have an impact on mental health?

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Psychologists Cameron Staley and Jennifer Miesch discuss the impact of kindness, loneliness, and connection on mental (and physical) health.

The federal Department of Health & Human Services have found that rates of depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts have escalated significantly in the past decade - especially among kids and teens. The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, recently raised an alarm about the devastating effects of loneliness and isolation in the US. His department has gone so far as to call this an “epidemic of loneliness.” We care about these trends and have been taking action to educate others about mental health, warning signs, and encouraging others to get help. In this episode we take a look at the impact of kindness, loneliness, and connection on mental health.   

Long term loneliness and isolation can have a negative impact on mental and physical health. People who show simple kindness to others also tend to be healthier and live longer. Kindness can increase your sense of connection with others, which can directly impact loneliness, improve low mood, and enhance relationships in general. It also can be contagious.  People are more likely to demonstrate kindness for others when they see people around them demonstrating kindness.  Looking for ways to show kindness can give you something positive to focus on, especially if you tend to feel anxious or stressed in social situations.

We explore this and more in episode 9 of Understanding Mental Health. 

If you are having thoughts of suicide or self harm, please talk with a mental health or health professional. Call or text the suicide prevention lifeline at 988, or visit a local crisis center. If you have immediate life threatening concern for yourself or someone else, call 911 or go to your closest hospital emergency room. 

Mental health services are free for currently enrolled ISU students at Counseling & Testing Service. Appointments are free for students at the ISU Health Center as well. To learn more about counseling services for currently enrolled ISU students or general mental health resources, visit the ISU’s Counseling and Testing Service website: