This year Mental Health Awareness Week, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, is celebrating its 21st year. The theme for the week is nature, and across the country people will be celebrating the mental health benefits of being around nature in their local community in a range of creative ways.
During the first lockdown, when we were confined to our homes and were allowed out once a day to exercise, the importance of being outside (walking, being in green places and seeing wildlife) suddenly seemed to hit home. The Mental Health Foundation found that going for a walk was one of the most widely used coping strategies during the pandemic, with nearly half of respondents reporting that spending time in green spaces had been vital for their mental health.
The Growth Company’s Mental Health Champions and Health and Wellbeing EDI network members have planned several different activities for colleagues to get involved with, including the #ConnectWithNature challenge. The Growth Company will be challenging its people to get outside and do some kind of movement (anything from gardening and short walks to a long cycle ride) each day between 10-16 May, to help raise money for Young Minds.
To help inspire their colleagues, some of our team shared their ideas for how to best connect with nature.
Richard Jeffrey – National Director, GC Business
“I connect with nature on walks in Chorlton and Sale water park with my kids. We have loved exploring different local green spaces during lockdown. The River Mersey and both Chorlton and Sale Water Park have been great fun to explore and get lots of steps in. This was especially good when the kids were at home from school during lockdown - think this is a habit that will last.
I also go running in Alexandra Park - beautiful park! I was involved in the Friends of the Park and we worked with the council to get a heritage lottery grant a few years ago. That investment has really paid off during lockdown.”
Michael Nichols - Key Worker, GC Education & Skills
“Cycling adventures help me connect with nature. Getting outside is a great way to get the blood and feel-good hormones flowing while getting exercise. It’s great for your physical and mental health, plus you're getting the vitamins from the sun and giving your mind and body a distraction from the TV. Sometimes it's a challenge to get started but once I'm out, I embrace it all.”
Anushka Parekh - OD Advisor, Growth Company
“I love being outdoors with my dog Rolo, it makes me feel rejuvenated, happy and fresh and he certainly gets my steps in when I have to chase him!”
Nick Howard - Health and Safety Officer, Employment Services
“I’ve been paddling and adventuring outside for about 15 years now – I always feel better after being out. I love the water and I feel exceptionally lucky to be able to get to inaccessible and exciting places on the water. Whether it’s a big trip away with friends or just a quick paddle on my local canal with the spaniel, I always end feeling energised and motivated!”
For more information on Mental Health Awareness Week, visit the Mental Health Foundation’s campaign website.
If you’d like to donate to Young Minds, you can do on the #ConnectWithNature challenge JustGiving page.