700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Nina West and On Our Sleeves: Kindness Begins with You!

May 06, 2021
Nina West
Photo Credit: Staley Munroe

Mental health is something we do not talk about enough, because there is stigma when we do. I want to normalize this conversation instead. I want to encourage kids to feel empowered to express themselves, especially emotionally. And I think this begins with kindness.

If you know me, you know that kindness is not just something I preach, but something I try to put in action daily – and it starts with me being kind to the most important person in my life – ME! See, I am my own worst critic and sometimes, I struggle. Sometimes, I make mistakes. Sometimes, I have a bad day.

That’s when I know I need to stop and check in with how I’m feeling. By acknowledging my emotions and understanding that I’m not always equipped to handle everything life throws at me, I am being kind to myself. Kindness rules!

Someone once told me that therapy is like an oil change for your brain; cars need to be tuned up to keep running. Sometimes they need air in the tires, sometimes they need a new belt or…well, I don’t want to get too lost in this specific car analogy because I don’t know much about cars, but I that is why I take my car to a professional for tune-ups! My mental health is the same way!

I put myself through a lot. I pick up and carry a lot of emotional baggage and I know I am not the only one. As an act of kindness, I go to a therapist and work on tuning myself up.

LGBTQIA+ youth face so much discrimination and stigma. It is important that we provide space and room for our LGBTQIA+ youth to speak. It is important we validate their experience and essential that we show up for them. You may not have all the answers, but you don’t have to. Just provide an open heart, an open mind, and an open space to talk.

By recognizing and acknowledging emotions, you show your children or young people in your life the ability to see that mental health, wellness, and care are part of our daily routine. It normalizes what we are feeling, when we are feeling it. It also allows us the great wonder of providing space and time to talk about mental health openly.

Friend – this is kindness in action. This is what kindness looks like. Yes, kindness is holding the door for someone, complimenting them, or even saying, “Thank you.” Kindness is also allowing conversations and moments to exist. By allowing an expression of our emotional selves, by empowering our voices to speak our emotional thoughts, we are giving the greatest gift of kindness.

We are validating someone by listening, acknowledging, and providing space and legitimacy to what we are feeling. This matters. You matter.

Begin to put this act of kindness into practice today. Start small. Start with you.

I am thrilled to be joining the On Our Sleeves movement. Learn more about how you can get involved http://bit.ly/NinaOneMillion.

Featured Expert

Nina West
Nina West
American Drag Queen, Actor, Singer/Songwriter

Nina West is an American drag queen, actor and singer/songwriter based in Columbus, Ohio played by Andrew Levitt who is the most Googled Drag Queen In The World from 2020-2021. She rose to national prominence in 2019 with her appearance on VH1’s Emmy winning show RuPaul's Drag Race - Season 11.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.