Hosted annually since 2000 by the Mental Health Foundation, the importance of mental health awareness is emphasised by many across the UK. This year it falls on the 10th of May through to the 16th of May and this year’s chosen theme is Nature. The organisation’s research has shown that nature has become an immensely popular way of people trying to improve their mental health. Whether this be done by walking through the countryside, cycling or just experiencing and interacting with the wilderness, it can benefit your mental health.
Following on from the pandemic, achieving good mental health has become a much more relevant subject for most. But what is becoming aware of mental health?
During this year’s mental health awareness week lead by the Mental Health Foundation and with other mental health organisations supporting, these and others like Teenage Mental Health believe this week was not just time to recognise different aspects of mental health but also to build an understanding of how to acquire help or advice.
Many people becoming aware but little people still willing to take action. Awareness does not always equal change. The use of this theme of nature is hoping to be a method for encouraging many to step beyond the same four walls and connect with the outside world, especially after the pandemic. Teenage Mental Health would support the week after to be #MentalHealthActionWeek to keep momentum, and also promote positive change.
Action equates Awareness.
Awareness surrounding mental health is important, but alongside this taking action is a key factor to consider when it comes to helping those who are struggling. So how does one act on improving their mental well-being? It can be as straightforward as finding the right therapist.
For many people finding the right therapist is not always as simple as it is set out to be. Taking that first step out of your comfort zone and approaching a new therapist can feel uncomfortable due to the feeling of vulnerability. This year many support services have been overwhelmed in people suffering with their mental health due to Covid19. Once again, the repetition of awareness has allowed cases of people struggling with their mental well-being to increase drastically, yet the number of accessible public support services do not acceptable meet demand. Especially face to face services which became almost non-existent across the UK.
From this, there has been an increase in the amount of people acquiring help from private organisations, like us at Teenage Mental Health. We want to help as many people as possible who reach out to us and engage our services, but this needs to be appropriate and ethical. We will ensure potential patients have been made aware of all public/FREE options suitable for them, because we do not do our work for the money. And even then, we pride ourselves in providing patients with a free first appointment which many other counsellors unethically abandon. The importance of taking action is not something to be taken lightly and we hope that the use of a first free appointment can help people who are struggling to step forward and ensure they are using the right service for them without financial obligation, pressure or taken advantage of.
We advise you to research any support services you may think to use so you can be treated fairly and ethically whenever it comes to improving your mental well-being. Mental health awareness week is here to start conversations about different sides of tackling mental illness, on the other hand we believe discussions about how to act on it is also vital when bettering people’s mental health. Here is a blog post previously written by Teenage Mental Health that highlights the areas needed to consider when researching what services to use: https://www.teenagementalhealth.co.uk/blog/post/13097/finding-the-right-therapist/
It is being advised more by GP’s and Public services for those who can to use private services to avoid waiting list of 8, 10 12+ Months for face to face therapy of various forms particularly one to one counselling, and even then it might still be online! The use of private services for therapy, such as Teenage Mental Health is something we naturally would like to recommend, but we know that sadly not everyone can access this and are reliant on public service support. However, an alternative support mechanism that many people can access while waiting and in general is nature. A walk in the fresh air, along the sea, in the woods, through marshes or streets may not fix all problems, but it may give you a rest from them, even if only brief.
Nature can be beneficial for calming chaotic and overwhelming thoughts and because of the Covid19 pandemic many people have resorted to this when coping with their mental well-being. However, during lockdown for many people it has become a lot easier to stay inside and be stuck in the same cycle each day, like Groundhog Day. The theme nature is relevant now more than ever and we hope to see many people take advantage of how the outside world can positively impact them. Just taking time out of your day, whether it only be 20 minutes, can give you a chance to reflect and process in a calm environment which many peoples struggle to complete whilst being at home.
As restrictions ease, the number of outdoor activities will gradually increase. Something as simple as spending time outside can still do so much for many. As many people may not have access to nature, during the week the Mental Health Foundation will be launching ways to enable people with limited outdoor space so they can still be involved.
Exercising outdoors is also a good way of coping and destressing when encountering mental illness. Exercise reduces the levels of hormones involved with stress, like adrenaline and cortisol, and it stimulates the production of endorphins. Endorphins are known for elevating people’s moods and releasing the feeling of relaxation. Exercising outside is also a great method of distraction and it does not have to be anything drastic. Simply taking a walk can help clear your head. Now, in the week following the Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 we hope more people take more Mental Health Action. Do what you can, go for a walk and enjoy nature, speak with your GP or go private if you can afford, you’re worth the time and resource. And for all organisations public or private working on the general improvement and support for people’s mental health. Talk more to each other, do more with or to support each other, stop mostly using online therapies to replace face to face ‘natural’ communication and balance back face to face support and therapy increasing these (for many still preferred) services across the UK.
Written By: Scarlett Rose - Work Experience