Mental Health Awareness Week – inspiring us to connect with nature

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 10 – 16 May and this year’s theme is nature – highlighting the positive connection between the natural world and mental health.

It is run by the Mental Health Foundation which has researched the enormous benefits of getting outside during lockdowns.

Chief Executive Mark Rowland explains: “…During long months of the pandemic, millions of us turned to nature. Our research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic showed going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health.

“Websites which showed footage from webcams of wildlife saw hits increase by over 2000%. Wider studies also found that during lockdowns, people not only spent more time in nature but were noticing it more…”

This week the campaign is urging people to to connect with nature in new ways.

It also wants to convince decision makers that access to and quality of nature is a “mental health and social justice issue as well as an environmental one.”

As well as experiencing nature on our doorsteps, people are also being asked to share what they see on social media to inspire others – through photos, videos and sound recordings using the hashtags #ConnectWithNature #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

You can share images from local parks and woodlands – or even from your window.

There are also packs, and policy guides to discuss in schools, workplaces and communities.

You can find a list of Bristol’s parks on the council website.

The Northern Slopes is a nature reserve local to Knowle West with great views of Bristol.

Residents can also share nature connections on Instagram, adding the hashtag #SundaySights and tagging @bristolcouncil to have a chance of featuring in their weekly Sunday photo competition.

If you or someone you know needs help you can also find free support services in Bristol on the Are you OK? website.

For more information about this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week campaign visit https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week