We are celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week from the 10th to the 16th of May. The Mental Health Foundation has chosen the theme ‘Nature and the Environment' for this year's campaign. During lockdown, many of us turned to nature. Whether it was exercising, gardening or relaxing outdoors, we all experienced the many mental health benefits of being in or around nature.
When did Mental Health Awareness Week first begin?
The first Mental Health Awareness Week took place in 2001. Its first-ever theme was ‘Friendship and Mental Health’. Since then, the Mental Health Foundation have created Mental Health Awareness Week as a way to increase awareness around mental health and wellbeing support. The foundation continues to run the campaign every year and provide resources and mental health support to those who need it. To learn more about the history of the foundation, view their timeline here.
What is the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2021?
This year, the Mental Health Foundation has chosen the theme 'Nature and the Environment'. Based on findings from their research into the pandemic, they learnt that having access to nature has been one of the main ways people have supported their mental health during lockdowns. The foundation’s research states that 45% of people reported being in green spaces had been vital to their mental health. Wider studies have shown that during lockdown, people not only spent more time in nature but were taking more notice of nature in their communities.
The Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, Mark Rowland, said, ‘Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 will be an opportunity to open our eyes to the power of nature and ensure everyone can share in the natural world and experience mental health benefits.’
What are the goals the foundation is hoping to achieve during Mental Health Awareness Week?
The foundation has two clear goals for the week. Firstly, they want to inspire more people to connect with nature in new ways and notice the positive impact that connecting with nature can have on their mental health.
Secondly, they want to convince key decision-makers that access to nature is a mental health and social justice issue as well as an environmental one.
How you can get involved
You can get involved with Mental Health Awareness Week by sharing your own stories of how nature has supported your mental health. Whether it’s something as simple as caring for a house plant, listening to the birds, or writing a poem about your favourite nature spot, the foundation wants to read your story.
During the week, the foundation is asking people to do three small things:
Experience nature: take the time to recognise and grow your connection with nature during the week. Take a moment to notice and celebrate nature in your daily life.
Share nature: take a photo, video or sound recording of nature and share it with others to inspire them by using the nature hashtags. #ConnectWithNature #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
Talk about nature: use the foundation's tips, school packs, research, and policy guides to discuss how you can help encourage people to find new ways to connect with nature in your local environment.
What are we doing to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week at Thornbury Community Services?
During Mental Health Awareness Week, we have asked our workers and internal teams to step outside and take pictures of the many types of nature in their communities. We will be sharing our favourite pictures from the photography competition later week. Keep an eye on our social media channels to see some beautiful photos.
At Thornbury Community Services, we’re always supporting campaigns throughout the year. To keep up to date with what we're up to, follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn.