In 1949, the Mental Health Research Fund was established by the scientist Derek Richter, after the Second World War and the foundation of the NHS. Derek Richter’s aim was to address the apparent imbalance in physical and mental health funding. He set up a research laboratory to treat soldiers suffering from shellshock, which is now recognised as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Derek had a particular interest in how mental health is shaped by experiences or by the environment we live in – an approach which still informs the Mental Health Foundation’s research to this very day.
The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) was formed in 1973, as a result of the Mental Health Research Fund being merged with the Mental Health Trust. Their aim is to discover and address the sources of mental health problems to ensure people and communities can thrive.
For the last 21 years, the MHF has organised and hosted Mental Health Awareness Week, during which time the event has grown to become one of the biggest awareness weeks across the UK and globally. The week provides an opportunity for people to talk about all aspects of mental health, with a focus on providing help and advice.
Connect with nature
Following a year of lockdowns, it has become clear that access to nature is critical for our mental health. Research carried out by the MHF showed walking outside was one of the top coping strategies, with 45% reporting that being in green spaces had a positive effect on mental health.
The two main aims for Mental Health Awareness Week are to inspire more people to connect with nature in new ways, thus noticing the impact this has on their mental health. Secondly, the aim is to convince all decision makers that access to, and quality of nature, is a mental health and social justice issue as well as an environmental one.
The MHF suggests we do the following three things during Mental Health Awareness Week:
Experience nature: Take time to recognise and grow your connection with nature during the week. Take a moment to notice and celebrate nature in your daily life. You might be surprised by what you notice.
Share nature: Take a photo, video or sound recording and share the connections you have made during the week, to inspire others. Join the discussion on how you are connecting with nature by using the hashtags #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.
Talk about nature: Use the MHF’s tips, school packs, research and policy guides to discuss in your family, school, workplace and community on how you can help encourage people to find new ways to connect with nature in your local environment.
For further information go to: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/campaigns