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Connect with nature this Mental Health Awareness Week

Castle Cove by Helen Rouse IOW NHS Trust
Connect with nature this Mental Health Awareness Week
10 May 2021

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (10 - 16 May), is focussed on the theme of nature. There’s a lot of good research to support the role nature can play in protecting and supporting our mental health, though for many of us, 'being in nature’ may not be as easy as it sounds. 

The good news is there are lots of simple ways to bring nature into your everyday life, from garden wildlife to listening to sounds from a park bench and walking one of the many beauty trails on the Island.

This week the Isle of Wight NHS Trust is encouraging everyone in the community to get involved in Mental Health Awareness Week by:

  • enjoying the Island’s many beauty spots
  • inviting friends or family to your favourite nature location (groups up to 6 or two households allowed)
  • sharing your pictures and reflections about nature and its impact on your mental health online, using the hashtag #ConnectWithNature and tag in @IOWNHS

Anna Garrett, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Isle of Wight NHS Trust said:

Mindfulness is acknowledged to be a useful skill which promotes positive mental health. This is the practise of deliberately becoming aware of experiences in the here and now, letting go our usual descriptions and judgements.

The natural world gifts us a very easy way of embodying this focus, through the richness of sensory experience it offers. The sensations you discover when resting your hand against the bark of a tree, the exploration of sound and smell as you walk by the sea, the warmth of the spring sunshine on your face.

Each new moment offers a journey with our senses and an opportunity to slow down, engage and connect with life around us” 

Seeking mental health support

In addition to getting involved in the nature theme of Mental Health Awareness Week, there are several ways people can access support including:

  • NHS England’s Better Health Every Mind Matters contains expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing, plus a free NHS-approved ‘Mind Plan’ tool for tailored advice.
  • IOW Community Mental Health Support Hub: mental health resources and signposting help available to anyone living on the Isle of Wight.
  • The Isle of Wight NHS Trust’s  Isle Talk IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) service is a self-referral service for people who are over the age of 18 and living on the Isle of Wight. This service is provided by a team of trained psychological practitioners and therapists offering a wide range of skills to help those experiencing common mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions. The Isle Talk IAPT team can be contacted on 01983 532860 to book an appointment.
  • If anyone needs urgent help for their mental health and they are not sure of what to do, then they can call NHS 111 who will be able to ensure the individual receives the support they need. 

Image credits: Red Squirrel by Fiona Bannister, IOW NHS Trust / Castle Cove in Ventnor by Helen Rouse, IOW NHS Trust

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