Mental Health Awareness Week
Today marks the launch of Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health. This year’s theme is nature and how connecting with the natural world can support good mental health.
How can nature help with my mental health?
Spending time in nature is proven to help improve your overall mental and physical health. The benefits are often related to how our senses connect us to the environment around us, including the sight of nature, the scents that nature give off and the relaxing feeling that nature can stimulate which helps our mind rest.
Multiple studies show that there is a link between access to green space, such as fields, forests, parks and gardens, and a reduced risk of mental health problems. Some recognised results were improved mood, reduced stress, increased life satisfaction and better physical health – Mental Health Foundation UK. If you’re looking for some ways to incorporate nature into your everyday life you could start to grow food and flowers, go for a walk or run outdoors, spend time with animals or paint or draw outdoors.
Why we need to open up the conversation about mental health
As more open conversations around mental health happen more acceptance is created. It is crucial that as a society we stop the stigma created around mental health not only during mental health awareness week, but year round. Mental health illness among our peers are more common than we think. 1 in 6 young people aged 16-24 have symptoms of a common mental disorder such as depression or an anxiety disorder – Young Mind.
“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation” – Glenn Close
How can you help a friend or family member who is suffering from poor mental health?
It can take time for someone’s mental health to improve. Some people may need professional help, however there are ways you can help someone get back to positive mental health – NHS.
- Express your concern – letting someone know you’re worried is a good way to open up a conservation
- Reassure them – let them know you’re there to listen when they need to talk
- Be patient – just being there can be helpful for someone who may want to open up later
- Do not force it – don’t force someone to talk, get help or go to a doctor on their behalf
- Offer practical help – offer to do small things like the shopping – find what works for them
- Act as you usually do together – behaving differently can make someone feel more isolated
- Offer your time to listen – be an active listener, with no judgement
- If they do not want support – gently explore their reasons for not wanting to get support
- Look after yourself – it can be upsetting to hear someone you care about in distress
How can you help improve your mental health?
If you are facing or have faced a mental health illness or want to practice positive mental health follow the suggestions below. Note – these suggestions will not cure mental health illness, but may help improve your overall mental health and wellbeing.
- Talk about your feelings
- Keep active
- Eat well
- Drink sensibly
- Keep in touch
- Ask for help
- Take a break
- Do something you’re good at
- Accept who you are
- Care for others
Need support or to talk to someone outside your network?
If you are struggling with mental health you are not alone! 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem in any given week in England – Mind UK. If you need support now or in the future, there are many helplines staffed by trained people ready to listen. To view a list of crisis helplines, click here.
Want to participate in Mental Health Awareness week and beyond?
- Tune into Business Launchpad’s Instagram Live on Wednesday 13th of May at 7pm – 8pm to hear from our Business Coach Eniola and previous client Mirela talk all things mental health
- Talk to others about mental health, whether that is your own mental health or actively listening to someone struggling with their mental health
- Why not try to make a habit each day of connecting to the nature in your local area? 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.
- 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 or post about mental health awareness in general