Mental Health Awareness Week

I am sure you are already aware that this week, Monday 18th to Sunday 24 May 2020 is Mental Health Awareness week. The theme for 2020 is ‘kindness’ and aims to raise awareness and inspire and promote the message of good mental health for all.

Mind reports that approximately 1 in 4 of people in the UK experience a poor mental health problem each year and in England, 1 in 6 people report problems such as anxiety and depression in any given week.

The NHS website suggests there are 5 steps to mental wellbeing which I will highlight below:

1. Connect with other people

It is important to build and maintain good relationships as these not only give you a sense of belonging, they also allow you to share positive experiences and provide or give emotional support to others.

In normal times, there would be lots of things you could try to help build stronger and closer relationships, including visiting friends and family. We can’t do that just now so try and make the most of technology to stay in touch, but do not rely on this alone. Picking up the phone can be the best medicine of all. Aim to call one person a day, perhaps a customer or a supplier to see how they are getting on.

2. Be physically active

Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness, it can also improve your mental wellbeing. It helps you to set goals or challenges and causes chemical changes in your brain (which can help to positively change your mood). I can vouch for this as I have set myself the challenge of walking 10,000 steps a day. My physical health is improving (so the scales say!) and I’m getting time to think and plan whilst I’m out walking. I feel a huge sense of achievement when my step counter passes the target 💪

3. Learn new skills

Research shows that learning new skills can also improve your mental wellbeing. It boosts self-confidence, helps to build a sense of purpose and connects you with others.

Learning new skills is part and parcel of starting and running a business. It’s why our community is given access to knowledge events as part of their membership.

4. Give to others

Research also suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing. It creates positive feelings, gives you a feeling of purpose and helps you to connect with other people.

I would like to introduce you to our newest member, Lynsey Swales of Hillview Equine. Lynsey has recently launched a mental-health programme with the help of two of her miniature shetland ponies, Freddie and Sven.

TellFreddie Tell Sven Mental Health Awareness Team (miniature shetland ponies

The #TellFreddie #TellSven programme aims to make talking about mental wellbeing ‘normal’ and to remove the stigmas associated with it. Lynsey says “the Shetland ponies are a catalyst for talking about mental health. People across all demographics gravitate to these 4 legged miniature superhero’s regardless of age, gender, race or religion”.

Lynsey provides 1-2-1 counselling and combined equine facilitated learning in schools and is currently working in 2 within Teesside.

Ultimately, Lynsey would like to:

  • work with primary and senior schools, colleges and universities in the area to provide a consistent programme of mental health support that accompany children throughout their time in education
  • promote the necessary conversations around good and poor mental wellbeing
  • encourage people to come forward for early interventions and support
  • provide a safe non-judgemental environment that people feel comfortable engaging with
  • signpost people to appropriate support services within their respective organisations
  • create and develop strong links between businesses, education providers and community groups in the area
  • support local community groups by attending and promoting events.

Here is how you can give to others…Lynsey is launching a crowdfunding campaign but needs to increase her social media engagement before she hits go. It would be great if you could follow her journey on Facebook and/or twitter. Thank you 🙏

5. Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)

Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness mindfulness.

I try to be mindful on my evening walks, but it is far easier said than done! I need to practice it more. There are numerous apps that can assist with mindfulness and the Independent has listed the 12 best mindfulness apps to help you keep calm during a crisis.

It is so important to protect our mental health.