Kindness is one infection The Hills Private Hospital hopes will spread.
The hospital made acts of kindness the focus today as part of its Mental Health Week celebrations.
Former patient Greg Bell sought treatment for depression at the hospital in 2010, and returned as guest speaker to highlight the role of kind acts in building resilience and self-worth.
‘‘Its a way of giving back to the the hospital and staff, but also to help other patients see that there is ... a light at he end of the tunnel,’’ he said.
‘‘You really can’t put a value on it. They are so important, those little acts of kindness, because people come in and virtually they are stripped and raw, their emotions are bare.
‘‘It’s just a way of helping them to get back a bit of their own self-worth so that you grow from that.’’
Mr Bell said art therapy was important to his recovery.
‘‘You’ve got your psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses and everything like that, and that’s looking after one side of the brain,’’ he said.
‘‘But the other side of the brain — the creative side — it gave us a rest.
‘‘It took away that white noise that’s always there in your mind, it gave you a place of peace.’’
Mr Bell said kindness started with everyday acts.
‘‘There was a saying I came across that ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow’s a mystery and today is a gift and that’s why we call it the present,’’ he said.
‘‘We need to take that gift of getting up in the morning and just be kind, even if it’s only to ourselves.’’
Art therapist Bev Wilson started the movement in April this year.
‘‘It’s very much related to what we do as a hospital,’’ she said.
‘‘Research has shown that being kind and receiving kindness is beneficial for people’s health.
‘‘Not only for the person receiving the kindness, but also for the person giving it.’’
‘‘It’s been quite inspiring seeing patients and staff have actually acted on that.
‘‘The impact of the word kindness when people come in to the hospital has been amazing.
Colourful paper leaves hang in trees outside the hospital’s entrance, encouraging people to report kind acts big or small that made a difference to them.
The leaves are also a prompt to ‘pay it forward’ by doing a kindness for three people they know or meet.
‘‘We want this to be infectious,’’ Ms Wilson said.
‘‘We don’t want it to stay within these walls, we want it to go out into the community.
‘‘People are starting to come in and say: ‘Those signs that you have, can we have a copy? We want to share them with our friends.
‘‘That’s what it’s all about.’’