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‘Kindness by Post’: A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of a Participatory Public Mental Health Project

Wang, Congxiyu; Pearce, Eiluned; Jones, Rebecca; Lloyd-Evans, Brynmor; (2022) ‘Kindness by Post’: A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of a Participatory Public Mental Health Project. Frontiers in Psychology , 12 , Article 813432. 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.813432. Green open access

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Abstract

Background Random acts of kindness can improve wellbeing. However, less is known about the impacts of giving and receiving acts of kindness with strangers on wellbeing and loneliness. Therefore, this study’s objectives were to evaluate a participatory public mental health project involving sending and receiving a card with goodwill messages, to understand how such acts of kindness influence wellbeing and loneliness, and to investigate the potential mechanisms underlying the project’s impacts. Materials and Methods This study was an analysis of anonymized service evaluation data collected in the ‘Kindness by Post’ (KBP) project in 2020. It used a mixed-methods single-group design and data from 289 participants. Changes in wellbeing, loneliness, sense of belonging and hope from baseline (12th–14th February) to follow-up (26th February–2nd March) were analyzed using linear or multinomial logistic regression. Regression models also examined the associations between changes in wellbeing and baseline loneliness or participation level. Free text responses about experiences and suggestions for the project were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results Participants had a small, but statistically significant improvement, in wellbeing equating to 0.21 standard deviations (95% CI: 0.12–0.30) after taking part in the project, as well as improvements in loneliness, sense of belonging and hope. How lonely a participant was at baseline and whether participants both sent and received a kindness card were not associated with improvements in wellbeing. In the qualitative analysis, a desire to help others emerged as the main motivator to take part in the card exchange. Participants reported enhanced personal fulfillment, leading to improvements in wellbeing. Receiving a card could make people feel special and cherished, which was reported to establish a sense of connection with others, with potential benefits for reducing loneliness. Conclusion This study provided preliminary evidence that the KBP project might improve wellbeing, loneliness, sense of belonging and hope. Sending a kindness card in this project played a predominant role in wellbeing enhancement, and receiving a kindness card could reduce loneliness. This study suggests that the KBP project can be replicated in more contexts in the future, and might improve wellbeing and loneliness in large communities.

Type: Article
Title: ‘Kindness by Post’: A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of a Participatory Public Mental Health Project
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.813432
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.813432
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third-party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10143944
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