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    Silhouette of a persons head with a jigsaw piece missing representing mental health

    Mental Health Awareness Week

    Published on May 11th, 2021 | by Sophie West

    This week is Mental Health Awareness week, and it is important that employers understand and know how to deal with mental health in the workplace. Did you know that 70 million workdays are lost each year due to mental health problems which costs employers approximately £2.4 billion each year? (, 2021).

    Mental health can affect one in four people in their lifetime which can cause long-term absence and impact their lives significantly (CIPD, 2021). There is still very much a stigma and misunderstanding around mental health and it’s important that employers feel confident to have conversations with their employees about mental health.

    During the pandemic, the struggle has been harder than ever. Let’s normalise talking about mental health and help spread awareness. Make sure your employees know that it is always ok to ask for help without fear of judgement.


    What is Mental Health Awareness week and why does it matter?

    Mental Health Awareness week is an annual event, it is when there is an opportunity for the whole of the United Kingdom to focus on achieving good mental health.  Twenty one years ago, the Mental Health Foundation started the event. Each year the Foundation continues to set the theme, organise and host the week. The event has grown to become one of the biggest awareness weeks across the United Kingdom and globally, it demonstrates how mental health can affect us all and does not just reflect on our position colour or social background.


    Mental Health Awareness week is open to everyone. It is all about starting conversations about mental health and the things in our daily lives that can affect it. This year we need to get as many people as possible individuals, communities and workplaces to think about connecting with nature and how nature can improve our mental health.

    However, the Week is also a chance to talk about any aspect of mental health that people want to regardless of the theme.


    What can we do during the week 10-16 May?

    The week is an opportunity for people to talk about all aspects of mental health, with a focus on providing help and advice. This help and advice can come from a variety of sources be it from our employers but also a number of government agencies that are all there to help.

    This is also an opportunity for people to notice nature and try to make a habit of embracing what nature brings every day. Take time to stop and listen to the birdsong, smell the freshly cut grass, or even take care of a house plant, look at the trees, take an interest in local flowers or animals. Take a moment to appreciate these relationships.

    This seemed particularly important this year, in the year of a pandemic. Research has shown that being in nature has been one of the most popular ways the public have tried to sustain good mental health at a challenging time.

    The hope is that by growing awareness of the importance of nature to good mental health, we can also work to ensure that everyone can share in it, so also looking after the environment so others may enjoy it for the future can have a positive growth on our mental wellbeing.


    How do you describe nature?

    By “nature” we mean any environment in which we can use our senses to experience the natural world. This could include the countryside, a park or garden, coast, lakes and rivers, wilderness, plants or wildlife closer to home. It could also include nature that you can see or interact with in or from your home.

    Nature is something that is all around us it is part of our environment. It can be helpful in supporting good mental health.

    During lockdown, nature has played a vital part in supporting mental health. According to research, last summer half of people in the UK said that being in nature was a favored way to cope with the stress of the pandemic. It led to individuals embracing nature, be it a brisk walk around the housing estate or a more challenging assent on a mountain range.


    What about people who can’t access nature?

    This will be a key part of the Week. Many people find it hard to access nature because of where they live or because they have no outside space. This week will see the launch of new policy requests to enable greater access for people to nature. This can include making parks feel safer to use or planting more trees in our streets or asking developers to include plants and green spaces in their designs.


    Wellbeing Strategy

    For any business, it is important to encourage employees to look after themselves and each other. Healthy and happy staff are more productive and take less time off work due to sickness. You can develop your wellbeing strategy by including:

    • A package of initiatives to promote mental and physical wellbeing.
    • Educating employees and managers on topics such as emotional intelligence, resilience and stress management.
    • Providing pragmatic advice on health and wellbeing issues which impact on the workplace.
    • Reviewing your working practices to create a supportive culture.
    • Agility Risk and Compliance can help you develop your workplace strategies.

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