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Mental Health Awareness Week: When is it and what is this year’s theme?

·3 min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Over the past few months, the detrimental impact the coronavirus pandemic has been having on people’s mental health has been widely discussed.

According to research conducted by mental health charity YoungMinds, more than half of parents and carers are concerned about the long-lasting effects the pandemic is having on their children’s mental wellbeing.

Furthermore, an investigation carried out by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) suggested that young people’s mental health is suffering the most during lockdown.

The aim of Mental Health Awareness Week, which is taking place this year from Monday 10 May to Sunday 16 May, is to raise awareness of a topic related to mental health and to provide support for those who need it.

Here’s everything you need to know about the annual event:

Who created it?

Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK was conceived by the Mental Health Foundation, an organisation founded in 1949.

The charity states that it takes “a public mental health approach to prevention, finding solutions to individuals, those at risk and for society, in order to improve everyone’s mental wellbeing”.

The first Mental Health Awareness Week took place in 2001, and has since become one of the most significant mental health awareness observances in the world.

In the US, Mental Health Awareness Week is observed in October, coinciding with World Mental Health Day on 10 October.

What is this year’s theme?

This year, the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK is “nature and the environment”.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, the theme was chosen due to the importance of nature in lockdown, with the organisation pointing to research that found “going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45 per cent of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health”.

“Nature is so central to our psychological and emotional health, that it’s almost impossible to realise good mental health for all without a greater connection to the natural world,” the organisation explains.

For this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, the organisation will show the importance of nature on mental health, and how “even small contacts with nature can reduce feelings of social isolation and be effective in protecting our mental health, and preventing distress”.

The Mental Health Foundation also said it would be using this year’s theme to advocate for those who do not have access to nature, noting that it needs to be a “resource that must be available for everyone to enjoy”.

“Local and national governments need to consider their role in making this a reality for everyone, and we will be talking about how they can do so during the week,” the organisation said.

How can you get involved?

According to the Mental Health Foundation website, stories are the best way to get involved, with the organisation encouraging people to share their “stories of how nature has supported your mental health”.

“This might be as a simple as tending to a house plant, listening to the birds, touching the bark of trees, smelling flowers or writing a poem about our favourite nature spot,” the organisation explains, adding that those who participate should use the hashtags #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek to share any photos, videos or other connections they’ve made with nature.

Additionally, the organisation is offering individuals the ability to download a nature journal, which can be used to document how you feel before and after connecting with nature.

The Mental Health Foundation has also asked that people talk about nature with their friends, families, workplaces and communities.

If you are in need of mental health support, you can contact charity Mind by calling the helpline on 0300 123 3393, emailing info@mind.org.uk or texting 86463. The helpline is open Monday to Friday (except bank holidays), 9am to 6pm.

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