Mental Health Awareness Week takes place on 10-16 May 2021 and this year’s theme is nature.
What is Mental Health Awareness Week and why does it matter?
Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event when there is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. The Mental Health Foundation started the event 21 years ago. Each year the Foundation continues to set the theme, organise and host the Week. The event has grown to become one of the biggest awareness weeks across the UK and globally.
Mental Health Awareness Week is open to everyone. It is all about starting conversations about mental health and the things in our daily lives that can affect it. This year we want as many people as possible – individuals, communities and governments – to think about connecting with nature and how nature can improve our mental health.
However, the Week is also a chance to talk about any aspect of mental health that people want to – regardless of the theme.
What do you actually want people to do during the Week?
The Week is an opportunity for people to talk about all aspects of mental health, with a focus on providing help and advice.
This year we want people to notice nature and try to make a habit of connecting to the nature every day. Stop to listen to the birdsong, smell the freshly cut grass, take care of a house plant, notice any trees, flowers or animals nearby. Take a moment to appreciate these connections.
We also want people to share images/videos/or just sound recordings of the nature on your doorstep (and how this made you feel) on social media using #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
Why was Nature chosen as the theme for the Week?
The theme was chosen because being in nature is known to be an effective way of tackling mental health problems and of protecting our wellbeing.
This seemed particularly important this year – in the year of a pandemic. Our own research has shown that being in nature has been one of the most popular ways the public have tried to sustain good mental health at a challenging time.
Our hope is that by growing awareness of the importance of nature to good mental health – we can also work to ensure that everyone can share in it.
Nature is something that is all around us. It can be really helpful in supporting good mental health. Our ambition is to try to make that connection clearer for both individuals and policy makers.
How do you define Nature?
By “nature” we mean any environment in which we can use our senses to experience the natural world. This could include the countryside, a park or garden, coast, lakes and rivers, wilderness, plants or wildlife closer to home. It could also include nature that you can see or interact with in or from your home.
Aren’t there much more important mental health priorities than nature at the moment?
We are not saying that nature is the only priority that is important. And nature is not going to solve all mental health issues. But connecting with nature can play an important part in improving people’s mental health and make us feel better about ourselves.
During lockdown, nature has played a vital part in supporting mental health. According to our own research, last summer half of people in the UK said that being in nature was a favoured way to cope with the stress of the pandemic.
What about people who can’t access nature?
This will be a key part of the Week. Many people find it hard to access nature because of where they live or because they have no outside space. We will use the Week to launch new policy requests to enable greater access for people to nature. This can include making parks feel safer to use or planting more trees in our streets or asking developers to include plants and green spaces in their designs.
“Starting a conversation about mental health doesn’t have to be difficult.”
For any business, it is important to encourage employees to look after themselves and each other. Healthy, happy staff are more productive, and take less time off work due to sickness. We can help to develop your Wellbeing Strategy including:
- Developing a programme of initiatives to promote mental and physical wellbeing
- Educating employees and managers on topics such as emotional intelligence, resilience and stress management
- providing pragmatic advice on health and wellbeing issues which impact on the workplace
- reviewing your working practices to create a supportive culture.
Get in touch with us now to see how we can help you develop your Wellbeing Strategy.