This year is the 21st year of Mental Health Awareness Week, a week where we encourage everyone to start a conversation about the importance of protecting your mental health.
This year’s theme is “Nature”.
Mental Health Foundation chose this theme because research has shown that so many people found being in nature helped them cope with the stresses and strains of dealing with the pandemic.
In research published today, MHF found that seven in ten UK adults (70%) said being close to nature improved their mood. This is powerful evidence of the positive impact engaging with nature can have on our mental health.
But a survey also found that there were some key barriers to people being able to access nature in the way they would like. Teenagers in particular appear to be less connected with nature and around 13% of UK households have no access to a garden. We want to challenge the disparities between who is and isn’t able to experience nature.
Nature is not a luxury. It is a resource that must be available for everyone to enjoy – as basic as having access to clean water or a safe roof over our heads. This is something that must be addressed and in MHF’s policy paper they suggest ways that this can be done.
We do need to go beyond what we as individuals can do, and engage Government, local councils and others in bringing nature to the centre of all our lives.
What do we mean by “being in nature”? It is all about enjoying quality time, feeling and experiencing the joy of nature around you, the sights and sounds that you may have not noticed before. We have looked at nature’s unique ability to not only bring consolation in times of stress, but also increase our creativity, empathy and a sense of wonder. Even if you can’t go to a park or an outside space, there are ways of bringing nature into your home such as getting a pot plant, using your balcony, listening to the birdsong, or even watching a nature documentary. But the main thing is to get outside if you can and enjoy what is around you.
Remember, nature is all around us, and spring is such a fantastic time to enjoy it.
Have a good Mental Health Awareness Week!