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Mental Health Awareness Week: celebrating charities

Written for CharityComms. Live link here.

From online to in nature, we celebrate the charities supporting our mental health in brilliant ways

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 10 to 16 May 2021. Hosted by The Mental Health Foundation, the theme of 2021 is Mental Health and Nature. The week aims to inspire people to find new ways to connect with nature and convince decision-makers that access to nature isn’t only an environmental issue, but also a mental health one.

More than half of UK adults say that being close to nature helps their mental health. And with the year we’ve just had, we need to focus on our wellbeing even more than ever.

Here are some of the ways that charities are raising awareness of mental health and finding new ways to support our wellbeing.

The great outdoors

According to Mind, being in nature can improve your physical health, reduce stress, and improve your mood. There are great charities working with and within nature to support mental health. For example, Thrive helps people living with disabilities or ill health through gardening.

And Heart Wood in Northumberland, offers free therapeutic group counselling in local woodland. Focusing on men’s groups, it offers a unique route into therapy for people who can’t engage with indoor services. It has plans to offer CPD training to therapists in the autumn.

But you don’t have to leave your home to feel the benefits of nature. Websites which showed footage from webcams of wildlife saw hits increase by over 2000% this year.

Take, for example, which allows you to tune into forests of the world to help you relax. The social enterprise encourages users to record the sounds of their nearest forest, which are then added to the open-source library. As well as allowing you to do a spot of virtual forest bathing, it also encourages donations to plant trees.

Finding the right words to talk about mental health

Every week, 125 people in the UK take their own lives and 75% of them are men. Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), with agency Recipe, created a film to highlight the ways in which what people say can be totally different to how they feel, helping to “smash the stigma surrounding men’s mental wellbeing”.

Finding the Words (see bwlo) shows rugby player and CALM ambassador Joe Marler talking about a recent win for his team. While the post-match interview delivered to camera is positive, the preview thumbnail on YouTube shows a very different message.

Scroll along the timeline and you’ll find Marler’s inner thoughts, which conclude: “I try to put on a brave face but it’s not helping. I’m on the brink.”

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