Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the word kindness has started to appear all over the world. It is on signs above the freeway that would normally show us traffic conditions, it is being shared on social media tiles and hashtags where people would normally push products. Suddenly, in the wake of a pandemic ‘kindness’ is on everybody’s radar.
"kindness is the single most important human quality we can have"
For Dr Nelu Simonsz kindness has always been of the utmost importance. It is the reason that she chose to become a doctor and work in paediatrics, and it is something she is an advocate for.
“I honestly think that kindness is the single most important human quality we can have. It can make such an impact and isn’t hard to practice,” Dr Nelu told Medworld.
“Stories of kindness resonate so strongly with me.”
For Dr Nelu, kindness is personal, because she experienced what it is like when people are unkind when she was bullied throughout school.
“It would be for the colour of my skin, the way I looked, my second-hand uniform or even for doing well in maths! Every day was a battle, but I managed to get through and be where I am today.”
"too many struggle with these demons or give up altogether"
It was these childhood experiences that prompted Dr Nelu to pursue a career where she could practice kindness and make a difference in children's lives. At first, she considered teaching but then she decided that paediatrics was the best way to make a difference.
“Sadly there are so many kids who do not have support or the capacity to look after themselves. Too many struggle with these demons or give up altogether. My own experiences have made me more aware of this and working in paediatrics I see the worst-case scenarios – it is hard to not be passionate about it.”
Dr Nelu has been working in paediatrics for ten years and hasn’t looked back.
“Children are so honest and real, they are resilient in ways we would never know and most of the time they recover very quickly. I also love working with the parents and enjoy the education/prevention side of paediatrics. Seeing their child unwell is one of the most difficult things someone goes through and having the opportunity to be part of that is something really special.
“There are hard days, part of it is the work and pressure that goes along with being a doctor, part of it is seeing the really sad patients and families, but overall the good days far outnumber the sad. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”
"kindness has a huge impact on mental health"
As well as practicing paediatrics, Dr Nelu is also a presenter, and an advocate for kindness and mental health.
“To me, kindness has a huge impact on mental health.”
Psychology Today supports this theory claiming that offering kindness to others can bring about lasting wellbeing.
The medical industry could not operate without the kindness and compassion of its staff members. An individual needs these qualities to sign up for the long hours that doctors need to spend tending to patients, and sometimes changing or saving their lives.
“Kindness is particularly important in the paediatric population, so many mental health issues in kids and teenagers arise because of bullying – i.e. a lack of kindness. The burden of mental health disease in young children is growing rapidly and it is a silent killer. There needs to be more conversation and awareness about it.”
Both Bullying No Way and Bully Free NZ, confirm this is an issue. Studies show children and young people who are bullied are more likely to be depressed, lonely or anxious, and can experience a decline in their mental and emotional health.
Perhaps it shouldn’t take a pandemic for kindness to be part of our conversations, but if that’s what it takes, let’s use it to practice kindness daily. Hopefully with powerful advocates, like Dr Nelu, and the conscious shift that Covid-19 has evoked, we will all be more aware of kindness and the important role it plays in our own lives, as well as our children's.