Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

May 06 2021

White curve
Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 10 to 16 May 2021. This year, the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week is nature.

Here are some ideas to help you and your organisation get the most out of the week. They’re all based on the NHS Five Ways to Wellbeing: Be active, Keep learning, Connect, Give to others, Be mindful.

 

Red mushroom

Use the 5-4-3-2-1 technique

The 5-4-3-2-1 technique can really help you make the most of these activities. It’s a simple, effective way to focus our minds on the present – a great tool to use with friends, family and children:

  • First, identify five things you can see, then…
  • Four things you can hear
  • Three things you can feel
  • Two things you can smell
  • One you can taste.

Try using 5-4-3-2-1 with these activities during Mental Health Awareness Week:

 

Mindfulness on Monday

Being outdoors can help reduce stress and anxiety – even in urban areas. Why not take a stroll at lunchtime or after work? Take a moment to feel and sense what’s around you, by taking a walk through the park or just along the street.

Pay attention to your breathing with slow, deep and long breaths -  make the outbreath longer, as that’s the relaxing one!

 

New terrain (or TV!) on Tuesday

It can sometimes be tricky to spend time in nature, especially if the British weather or access are inhibiting factors. Simply bringing nature into your everyday routine can benefit your wellbeing, such as by having flowers or plants indoors, listening to the sounds of nature or watching nature programmes on TV.

You could get active by taking a walk and noticing what’s growing in local gardens or allotments at this time of year. Connect with the locals by seeing if they’d like to chat about their plots.

A robin perched on a fence

Wildlife on Wednesday

Can you take a few minutes’ break to look out of the window for some light and perspective? Research shows that watching and listening to wildlife can help maintain good mental health. Even taking just a couple of minutes out of our busy schedules can have a dramatic effect on stress levels.

 

Thoughtfulness on Thursday

Research shows that those who connect to nature more regularly report higher psychological wellbeing and greater self-acceptance, and can feel more socially connected to others.

Why not invite a colleague for a lunchtime walk - aim for a park, canal, river or greenest part of town – and agree not to talk about work!  Find out something new about your colleague.

 

Forests and foliage on Friday

Dr Alan Kellas says: “When we visit forests our senses are engaged differently and our attention changes. We naturally become more mindful and our mood can settle if we are anxious or lift if we are feeling low. Our imagination can be sparked and we gain a different perspective on our lives, projects and problems”. 

If visiting a forest isn’t practical, even a new office plant may help wellbeing. Bring one in and learn about it and how to keep it healthy.

 

Scenery and serenity on Saturday and Sunday

Observe natural features of any landscape, such as trees or flowers – either in photos, on TV or in person. Learn how to be more serene and practise habits of calmness. Just as we need to have exercise habits to give ourselves healthy bodies, we need to practise good mental habits to have peaceful and productive minds. Here are some daily habits you could adopt to develop serenity with the help of nature.

  1. Create a calming morning ritual of a walk around the block in the fresh air
  2. Become more aware of what’s around you
  3. Be kind and accepting of yourself whilst observing what’s around outside
  4. Set aside time for silence and observing nature
  5. Appreciate the small things in nature

Mental health all year round

Of course, mental health is important every day, not just during Mental Health Awareness Week.

As a leading mental health charity, we work within education, the workplace and in primary care to support people and their teams with training and resources throughout the year.

We have a ‘whole organisation approach’ to help employers embed a positive mental health culture and to implement practices in the workplace that have a tangible and sustainable impact. 

Path with trees lining each side

Why mental health?

Promoting and supporting wellbeing in the workplace can lead to significant reductions of sickness related absence and boost team cohesiveness, engagement and productivity.

 

Find out more

To find out more about our workplace programme and order a copy of our brochure: Mental health training in the workplace (charliewaller.org)

Countryside

References

  • Schultz, P. W. (2002). "Inclusion with nature: The psychology of human-nature relations". In P. W. Schmuck & P. Schultz (Eds.), Psychology of sustainable development.(pp. 62-78). Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic.
  • Nisbet, E. K., Zelenski, J. A., & Murphy, S. A. (2009). "The nature relatedness scale: Linking individuals' connection with nature to environmental concern and behaviour". Environment and Behaviour, 41,715-740.
  • Nisbet, E. K., Zelenski, J. M., & Murphy, S. A. (2010). "Happiness is in our nature: Exploring nature relatedness as a contributor to subjective well-being". Journal of Happiness Studies, 12,303-322.
  • Mayer, F. S., Frantz, C. M., Bruehlman-Senecal, E., & Dolliver, K. (2009). Why is nature beneficial?: The role of connectedness to nature. Environment and Behavior,41, 607-643. doi:10.1177/0013916508319745
  • Vinning, J., Merrick, M. S., & Price, E. A. (2008). "The distinction between humans and nature: Human perceptions of connectedness to nature and elements of the natural and unnatural". Human Ecology Review, 15, 1-11
  • Ryan, R. M., Weinstein, N., Bernstein, J., Brown, K. W., Mistretta, L., & Gagné, M. (2010). "Vitalizing effects of being outdoors and in nature". Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30,159-168. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2009.10.009

Image credit:

  • Robin image taken by Joseph Watson
  • All other images taken by Sarah Duggan
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