Reflecting on Mental Health Awareness Week – why does it matter?
The Mental Health Foundation started their annual Mental Health Awareness event 21 years ago as an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. It has become one of the biggest awareness events across the UK and globally and is all about starting conversations about mental health and the things in our daily lives that can affect it. All of us experience challenges around our emotional wellbeing at some stage in our lives, caused by a range of factors, with 1 in 4 of us experiencing a problem with our mental health in any one year.
This year’s campaign has been particularly vital as millions of us have experienced a mental health problem, or seen a loved one struggle, during the pandemic. Children and adults with learning disabilities and other forms of disabilities are not exempt from this. Promoting mental health awareness is essential all year round.
Mental health awareness and learning difficulties
According to Mencap , evidence suggests that mental health problems may be higher in people with a learning disability than in those without a learning disability, with some studies suggesting that the rate of mental health problems in people with a learning disability is double that of the general population.
Unfortunately, there are many reasons why people with a learning disability are more likely to experience poor mental health. Certain types of risk factors include:
- Biology and genetics may increase vulnerability to mental health problems
- A higher incidence of negative life events
- Access to fewer resources and coping skills
- The impact of other people’s attitudes
Why was nature chosen as the theme for this year’s campaign?
Nature is a simple thing that can really help support good mental health. More than half of UK adults say that being close to nature improved their mental health, with almost 2 thirds of people said being close to nature meant they experience positive emotions.
During lockdown, nature has played a vital part in supporting mental health and last Summer half of people in the UK said that being in nature was a favoured way to cope with the stress of the pandemic and sustain good mental health at a challenging time.
Nature can’t solve all our problems but it can really help put things in perspective, take the pressure off and bring calm, joy and wonder to our daily lives.
How to connect more with nature
“Nature” can refer to 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.
Find the time to go outside in a park or by a lake or a river, taking a moment to see, hear and feel nature. Or plan a day by the beach or in the countryside. If it’s hard to get out, look for wildlife from your window and listen to the bird song, or grow and look after a plant in your house. Notice their scent and colour. The important thing is to try to connect with nature and notice its beauty and how it makes you feel.
Supporting our tenants to access nature
Zetetick is dedicated to providing a supported and happy home environment to our tenants with learning difficulties. As we have seen, nature can play a big part in improving mental health and wellbeing and this is particularly important to those with learning difficulties, who may be more susceptible to mental health issues.
We have some amazing volunteers who help to keep our tenant’s outdoor spaces a pleasant and uplifting place to be; planting flowers, clearing borders, cutting lawns, cleaning patio areas – any way to improve the outlook for our tenants. It is also very exciting that in the next couple of weeks we will provide fruit trees to some of our tenants, who will love to watch it grow and enjoy the nutritious, organic fruit from their own plant!
Enjoy the beauty of nature and build a greater connection with the natural world.
If you are struggling with your mental health, help is always available. Head to the Mental Health Foundation website here for more information and resources.
#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek #nature #supportedliving