Did you know that Mental Health Awareness Week took place from 10th to 16th May? For many people, the week will have passed them by, even though good mental health is vital to all of us. Mental Health Awareness Week is an important reminder for us to take care of our mental health and to watch out for the mental health of our colleagues, family and friends. But doing this isn’t just for 1 week in the year – we need to do it all the time!
With 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental health problem of some kind each year and with poor mental health often leading to more serious mental health conditions, it’s as important as ever that we focus on staying mentally healthy and in knowing how to reach out for advice and support when we need it.
Now in its 21st year, the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week this year was ‘Nature’.
Connecting with nature has been an important lifeline for many people during the pandemic, a way of staying mentally resilient during very challenging times, when many other options were closed to us. And, research tells us that connecting with nature is a proven way of tackling mental health problems and protecting our wellbeing.
Two of the most common mental health conditions that we can protect ourselves against are anxiety and depression.
Anxiety is a natural human response to stressful situations and we all experience a certain amount of it. It actually helps to motivate us. However, it can become problematic when we find ourselves constantly worrying about things that may or may not happen, when we keep rehearsing future events or when we become obsessive. If left unchecked, it can prevent us from doing things we need or want to do, and it can lead to more serious conditions such as panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Depression is also common with around 24% of women and 13% of men in England diagnosed in their lifetime. It is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. It usually involves prolonged feelings of unhappiness, sadness or hopelessness and can affect people mentally and emotionally. Many different symptoms can arise, including low energy, poor concentration, disturbed sleep and reduced self-confidence and a lack of motivation, often leading to withdrawal from work and social situations.
If you find yourself experiencing constant worry about future events or feeling unhappy or lacking motivation for an extended period of time, it may be a sign that you’re moving towards heightened anxiety or depression. If so, then it’s time to act. One of the most important things you can do is to talk to someone about your feelings – a family member, a trusted work colleague, a doctor or a mental health professional. Finding someone who will listen to you is an important first step in finding the help you might need.
As feelings are on the inside, it’s not always easy to tell if a family member, work colleague or friend is experiencing difficulties. We can watch out for physical changes, behavioural changes and clues in the way they speak or engage with us, for example, if we notice that our friend is recently looking more tired, less engaged or struggling to make decisions they could easily make in the past. If we notice unexpected changes, we can ask them how they are and take the time to really listen and offer support.
There are so many ways to take care of our mental health and there is a great deal of support available when we need help. Why not find some ways to connect with nature over the next few days and see what difference it makes to how you feel? You can use our suggested 7-day Connect with Nature plan or simply make some time each day to sit or walk in a natural environment.
Mindful Me offers a great choice of workshops for teams, both in-person and online, to help you take care of mental health and wellbeing.
- Guided Meditations
- Introduction to Mindfulness
- Mindfulness for Resilience
- Understanding and Managing Stress
- Positive Mental Health at Work
- Mindfulness in Nature