Mental Health Awareness Week Starts Today
Today, May 10, marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week – a campaign created by the Mental Health Foundation to end the stigma around mental illness.
The first Mental Health Awareness Week was in 2001, and the yearly event has gone on to become the biggest annual mental health campaign in the world.
Mental Health Foundation’s aim is to spark conversations on mental health conditions – from bipolar disorder to anxiety, to depression and post traumatic stress disorders – and the things in our lives that can affect our mental health.
The past year has undeniably been a strain on many people’s mental health. Four million young people in the UK said they’d experienced poor mental health during the pandemic, while others have become increasingly anxious as life slowly returns to normal as restrictions are eased.
Everyone has dealt with the past 12 months differently, but there’s one thing a lot of people have relied heavily on to help their mental wellbeing: nature. Research conducted found that nearly half of people (46%) turned to nature to help them through the pandemic.
With this in mind, this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is focusing on just that.
Discussing how people have turned to nature this year, the foundation said, ‘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.’
The foundation added, ‘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.’
What does the Mental Health Foundation want you to do this week? Stop and smell the roses – quite literally.
The foundation wrote on its site:
This year we want people to notice nature and try to make a habit of connecting to 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.
There is nature all around us, even for those living in cities and other urban areas. It’s just sometimes a little harder to find compared to those who have their own gardens.
To encourage people to get involved with nature this week in particular, the Mental Health Foundation gave a list of tips on how to do this. Firstly, find nature wherever you are; whether that’s in a local park, your garden, or at the beach. The charity says to ‘look out for the unexpected,’ and ‘try to notice nature wherever you are, in whatever way is meaningful for you.’
Other tips include exercising outdoors, bringing nature into your home with plants, flowers and vegetables, and to try combining creativity with your natural environment. You can read the full list here.
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.
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