10 May Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 – Connect with Nature
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week with the theme of connecting with nature. At Ward Williams Associates (WWA) we recognise the importance of supporting our teams’ mental health alongside a passion for caring for our natural environment.
During the long months of lockdown through the pandemic, millions of us turned to nature to support our wellbeing. Research conducted by Mental Health Foundation showed that walks outside were one of our key coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health. Websites that showed footage from webcams of wildlife saw hits increase by over 2000%. Wider studies also found that during lockdowns, people not only spent more time in nature but were noticing it more.
Nature is central to our psychological and emotional health, that it’s almost impossible to realise good mental health without a greater connection to the natural world. Nature has a unique ability to not only bring consolidation in times of stress but also increase our creativity, empathy and sense of wonder. It has been established that even small contacts with nature can reduce feelings of social isolation and be effective in protecting our mental health, and preventing distress.
2021 is going to be a critical year for the natural environment: a new Environment Bill will go through the UK Parliament which will shape the natural world for generations to come; the UK is also hosting the G7 nations in Cornwall where creating a greener future will be a key priority. This is in addition to a historic international UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) being hosted in Glasgow in November.
We actively encourage our team to engage with and support our natural environment during work and downtime. Last year we launched our volunteering days where our team can get out of the office for a day to participate in beach cleans, litter picks or other community activities. It benefits the environment and offers our team the opportunity to connect with nature and engage with their local communities.
Early in 2021, we also introduced our Mental Health First Aider’s (MHFA’s) into the business. Members of our team have been trained in how to recognise and help a person developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. Our MHFA’s are on hand to provide confidential support to our team when they need it the most, through listening and signposting to further assistance.
For more information about this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week visit mentalhealth.org.uk/mhaw or join the conversation on social media using #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.