What is Mental Health Awareness Week?
Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event when there is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. The Mental Health Foundation started the event 21 years ago. Each year the Foundation continues to set the theme, organise and host the Week
This year, the theme for the week is ‘Nature’
During long months of the pandemic, millions of us turned to nature. The Mental Health Foundations 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
This week across the country, people will be celebrating the mental health benefits of being around nature in their local community in a range of digital and creative ways.
Nature and our mental health
There are lots of ways in which spending time in nature can be positive for our mental health and wellbeing.
From gaining a sense of peace and a boost to our self-esteem, to improved concentration and the psychological restoration.
The reasons why time in nature has this effect on us are complex and still being understood. The benefits are often related to how our senses connect us to the environment around us, from the shapes in nature we see to the scents that trees give off and the soft fascination that nature can stimulate which helps our minds rest.
Mental Health Awareness Week activities for the workplace
Mental Health Awareness Week is an opportunity for all of us to raise awareness of mental health issues and reduce the social stigma it can have.
The week provides an opportunity for you and your organisation to add to the wider conversation that will be occurring on social media, television, and elsewhere.
Highlight the fantastic work you’re already doing to address mental health stigma in the workplace, and introduce new and targeted activities anchored to the event.
Below are some ideas for activities around mental health awareness and nature.
Secret Plant or Seed Giving
This idea is the same as Secret Santa apart from the gifts would be a plant or seed.
The basic concept of the Secret Santa game is simple. All of the participants’ names are placed into a hat, box, etc. and mixed up. The organiser will then choose the names from the box for each person other and email them the name. Everyone must keep the names secret.
Then everyone buys plant or seeds (within a set budget, usually about £5) and posts them to their named colleague.
Set up a meeting (via Zoom) on Friday for you all to open your ‘gifts’ together
A good walk can do wonders for your mental wellbeing.
But it’s not just about the occasional one-off feel good factor. Being active has a whole range of benefits when it comes to mental wellbeing.
It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. Physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed, and staying active helps those who are depressed recover.
During the week encourage everyone to go for a lunchtime or evening walk or run if possible in nature.
Ask colleagues to share their favourite photo of nature or their favourite place they like to spend in nature. Additionally to the photo ask everyone to write a few words about how the photo makes them feel or why they like it.
Share them online or display them at work and ask please to vote for the best picture. The ‘winner could get a small prize, maybe vouchers for a garden centre.
‘Craftercise’ is designed to help team bonding, participating in a creative activity that is not directly related to work helps to design a space where people can relate on a new level.
Hold a Craftercise session with the theme being nature with creativity. People could write, draw or paint pictures of landscapes, plants, or animals.
The session could be held via zoom or work shared online.
Mental health quiz
We have all held zoom quizzes over that last few months!
To raise awareness and start conversations in the office about mental health have a Mental Health quiz. Choose a lunchtime of maybe near the end of the day.
Find out how much your colleagues know about mental health and challenge misconceptions and learn the real facts about mental health.
Attached are some quiz questions and Facts and Myths from the Time to Talk website
Mental Health Awareness Week resources
Since 1949, the Mental Health Foundation has been the UK’s leading charity for everyone’s mental health. With prevention at the heart of what they do, they aim to find and address the sources of mental health problems so that people and communities can thrive.
If you require further information about Mental Health Awareness week and some useful resources please visit the Mental Health Foundation website. Click here