It’s Mental Health Awareness Week! This year’s theme is Nature and focuses on how being outdoors can boost our mental and physical wellbeing.

Join this year’s campaign

To get involved this year, you can:

  • Try to spend more time outdoors. Spending time in nature has been found to help with many mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. There are also specific therapy programmes (known as Ecotherapy, ‘green therapy’ or ‘green exercise’) which use time outdoors as a way to improve mental and physical wellbeing. Listen to Jill’s story.
  • Take a look at some top tips on connecting with nature
  • Think about how you can spend more time in nature, from visiting parks to finding your nearest nature reserve. There are lots of ways to interact with nature even if you live in a city or don’t have green space at home; be creative and try activities like drawing, painting or reading about nature.
  • If you are planning to visit a nature spot, stay COVID-safe by reading the latest Government advice on accessing green spaces safely

Getting into the garden

This year, Mental Health Awareness Week follows closely behind National Gardening Week – another great way to spend time in the outdoors. Spectrum People (our Wakefield-based charity) lead a long-running community project, Appletree Allotment and Community Garden, which provides a relaxing space for people of all ages to enjoy nature. Most recently, Spectrum People welcomed young volunteers from the ‘Be the Difference’ Programme to the Garden (right) and have hosted volunteers from the National Citizens Service and many other organisations. Read about Appletree Garden or find out more on Facebook.

  • Community gardens are shared spaces where you can relax, enjoy family-friendly activities or try your hand at growing crops and vegetables
  • There are lots of community gardens throughout the country – look online to find a local gardening group or contact your local authority for information on community gardens
  • Read Mary’s story on how gardening helped her cope with bipolar disorder

Exercising outdoors

Exercising outdoors, growing plants and flowers or spending times with animals can reduce feelings of stress and anger and can make you more relaxed. If you’re able to exercise, try to do it outside – whether it’s a run, cycle or a short walk. Or if you’re looking to revitalize your usual exercise routine, why not try new routes that bring you closer to green spaces?

  • Our Chief Executive, Dr Linda Harris (left) has been spending more time outdoors lately to prepare for the Ten Peaks Challenge in June. She says, “I have identified the highest hills/climbs outside my house and designed a route that encompasses all of them – I time myself doing it and try to improve on that time every time! I have been pleasantly surprised as to how positive it’s made me feel already”
  • If you’re looking for motivation to get outdoors, there are lots of ways to get started. The NHS Couch to 5k is a popular programme which helps you build fitness week by week

Postcards from Wakefield

thumbnail of Postcards from Wakefield

To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week, the Positive Mental Health Network is inviting everyone to take part in their ‘Postcards from Wakefield’ project to get people talking about mental health. Supported by Spectrum People, Wakefield Council and others, this project encourages people to use postcards to write positive messages, poems, or drawings and share it with others with the aim of spreading positivity and opening up conversations about mental health. To get involved, you can:

Health and Wellbeing Support

There are lots of ways to access support with your mental health, including many mental health helplines. If you are in crisis and need support urgently, call the Samaritans free on 116 123. Further information is also available via MIND, the mental health charity, and the NHS.