May is one of our favourite months! Not only do we get two bank holidays for no obvious reason (no complaints there!), the weather starts to feel a lot like summer (go away April chills!) and we also celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May) – one of the most important weeks in the year for a mental health charity like us and an engaging event you can also take part in!
Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health, raising awareness and breaking stigma. Every year the Mental Health Foundation set the theme and this year they have suitably chosen “Connecting with Nature” and how nature can improve our mental health – whether it’s taking a walk or a jog, gardening or growing plants on your balcony, listening to bird songs, spotting wildlife, going for an outdoor swim, collecting flowers, writing a song about nature or simply sitting outdoors taking it all in. For it isn’t just about being physically in nature, what matters most is to open ourselves up and interact with nature, as even the smallest contacts with nature can reduce feelings of social isolation and distress. We, at MFT, invite you to follow our MHAW activities and/or join in the movement to be more present with nature.
What we’re doing
Alongside our partners Catalyst and Acting Out Productions/Let’s Link, just in time for Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ll be officially launching our new Time To Change Surrey partnership on Tuesday 4 May to raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health. You can hear more about it on our radio show, The Wellbeing Hour (more on this below).
We’ll also be offering many opportunities for our clients and supporters to experience and reflect on their connection with nature as part of MHAW.
We invite you to:
- Listen Again to the May edition of The Wellbeing Hour, our radio show, dedicated to nature and breaking mental health stigma. The show was aired on Monday 3 May on Surrey Hills Community Radio – but you can listen to the show again.
- Join our weekly wellbeing walks – departing from the Leatherhead Leisure Centre on Tuesdays and starting from the Beefeater in Tattenham Corner (near Epsom Downs) on Thursdays. The walks will be socially distanced, limited to eight walkers (+ two walk leaders) and need to be booked in advance.
- Join Lenny, our Wellbeing Advice and Information Officer, on her “connection to nature meditation” on Wednesday 12 May, 2.15pm-3pm. If you can’t make it, we will also share her nature meditation on our website afterwards, so make sure you keep an eye on our social media channels or the blog section of our website!
- Get green fingered on our Stress Matters sessions on 6 and 13 May, 4pm-5pm which will focus on container gardening and how gardening can help to relieve stress. Our facilitator Angie will demonstrate how to plant a container and people are invited to join in if they want or just watch. For this, you’ll need: a container with a hole, some broken china/pebbles, multi-purpose compost and plants/flowers of your choice. Optional: slow release fertiliser granules and swell gel.
- Put the kettle on and join our Coffee Mornings on Friday 7, 14 and 21 May at 10.30-11.30am where we’ll be chatting about nature and walking (May is also National Walking Month).
- Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram and/or visit our website to read the inspiring quotes, articles and blogs we’ll be sharing about connecting with nature or raising awareness of mental health.
What YOU can do
During Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re encouraging you to do three things:
- Experience nature: take time to recognise and grow your connection with nature during the week. Take a moment to notice and celebrate nature in your daily life. You might be surprised by what you notice!
- Share nature: Take a photo, video or sound recording and share the connections you’ve made during the week, to inspire others. Join the discussion on how you’re connecting with nature by using the hashtags #ConnectWithNature #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. Don’t forget to tag MFT too so we can find it more easily!
- Talk about nature: use tips, school packs, research and policy guides from the Mental Health Foundation’s website to discuss in your family, school, workplace and community how you can help encourage people to find new ways to connect with nature in your local environment.
The Mary Frances Trust Team