What is Mental Health Awareness Week?
Since 2001 the Mental Health Foundation has run an awareness week every May to highlight a specific theme for mental health. The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 is ‘Nature’ which will run from Monday 10th May to Sunday 16th May 2021.
Why is nature the theme?
“There is something to be wondered at in all of Nature” – Aristotle
During the last year with the pandemic and long periods of time in ‘lockdown’, millions of us turned to nature. Going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in outdoor and green spaces has been vital for our mental health.
Despite this, many of us are not accessing or benefitting from nature. Teenagers, in particular, appear to be less connected with nature and around 13% of UK households have no access to a garden.
That’s why Mental Health Foundation has chosen to explore nature as their theme for this year.
How can nature help to improve my mental health?
Spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health problems including anxiety and depression. This could be due to combining regular physical activity and social contact with being outside in nature.
From just taking a walk to gardening to exercising and spending time with animals, nature can;
- reduce feelings of stress or anger
- improve your mood
- help you take time out and feel more relaxed
- improve your physical health
- improve your confidence and self-esteem
- help you be more active
- help you make new connections
- provide peer support
How can I get involved in mental health awareness week?
During Mental Health Awareness Week, the Mental Health Foundation is asking everyone to do these 3 things…
- Experience nature… take time to recognise and grow your connection with nature during the week. Take a moment to notice and celebrate nature in your daily life. You might be surprised by what you notice!
- Share nature… take a photo, video or sound recording and share the connections you’ve made during the week to inspire others. Join the discussion on how you’re connecting with nature by using the hashtags #ConnectWithNature #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
- Talk about nature… use the tips, school packs, research and policy guides to discuss in your family, school, workplace and community. How can you help encourage people to find new ways to connect with nature in your local environment?
(Taken from mentalhealth.org)
How can my workplace get involved in mental health awareness week?
A great place to start with mental health awareness is to arrange a mental health talk for your company. Educating and opening up the conversation about mental health helps to end stigma, connect with your colleagues and show that you are an employer that puts mental health and wellbeing at the forefront of your agenda.
We provide talks all year round.. including during mental health awareness week, and we’d love to hear from you! You can find out more information here or book a free consultation with one of our mental health training specialists!
We have spoken about some things you can do as an individual above but what about trying these out at work?
Here are some ideas, not just for Mental Health Awareness Week, but for the summer ahead…
- Arrange a group lunchtime walk or picnic
- Take your meetings outside
- Walk to work and notice the nature around you
- Arrange a summer sports day
- Bring plants and flowers into your workspace
- Nature sounds playlist
- Put a favourite photo of nature on your computer
- Hang some pictures on the walls of nature and open spaces
- Book a mental health awareness talk
How to connect with nature!
Here are some ideas of how you can get connected to the nature around you.
- Grow or pick food – you could plant vegetables in your garden or balcony or even your windowsill. You could grow food together with others on an allotment or local community gardens. Learn about how to find edible plants and go foraging or fruit picking!
- Bring nature indoors – buy flowers or potted plants for inside your home. Grow herbs on a windowsill. Arrange a chair where you can view some nature through a window. Take photos of nature for your computer or phone backgrounds. Put pictures up of a favourite place you have visited or buy a photography print to hang on the wall.
- Do activities outside – take a walk, cycle, run, yoga or look for outdoor exercise classes in your local area. Eat picnics outside (weather permitting!) Look for woodland trails or national trust sites for exploring the beautiful scenery.
- Help your local environment – go on a litter picking walk. Volunteer for a local conservation project. Plant ‘helpful seeds’ such as berry bushes for garden birds or flowers to help bees! Build an animal habitat such as a hedgehog house or create a pond if you have the space.
- Connect with animals – watch out for wildlife when outside, it can be from the common pigeon to fish to deer depending on your surroundings! Visit a local community farm. Try pet-sitting or dog walking.
(Taken from MIND)
If you need support for your mental health today, you can find a list of support contacts here
Are you thinking about Mental Health training at your place of work? We have dedicated Mental Health Training Specialists to consult with you and your organisation on strategy, implementing mental health training, including Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and all wellbeing-related policies…