May 2021 saw the return of Mental Health Awareness Week, an important campaign that aims to get people talking about their mental health and reduce the stigma that can stop people from asking for help. This year’s theme was Nature!
Nature is so central to our psychological and emotional health, during our campaign we highlighted the powerful benefits that nature can have on mental health and inspired more people to connect with nature in new ways.
Why not explore the pages to find things that can help support your mental wellbeing all year round.
Fact or a myth?
People with mental health problems are violent.
Myth. People with mental health problems are much more likely to be the victim of violence. The violence myth makes it harder for people to talk openly about mental health problems. It can also make friends reluctant to stay in touch.
Mental health problems are rare.
Myth. Mental health problems affect one in four people in any one year. So, even if you don’t have a mental health problem, it’s likely your friend, a family member or work colleague will be affected.
People can recover from mental illness.
Fact. Many people can and do recover from mental health problems. Alongside professional help, the support of friends, family and getting back to work are all important in helping people recover.
On average, people with severe mental illnesses die 10 years younger.
Fact. But it’s not the mental illness that kills – it’s the discrimination. The physical health needs of people with mental health problems are often dismissed, causing higher rates of death from heart attacks, diabetes, and cancer for people with severe mental illness.
There’s not much you can do to help a friend experiencing a mental health problem.
Myth. If someone you know is experiencing a mental health problem, just staying in touch can really help. For many people, it is the small things that friends do that can make a difference, like visiting or phoning.
The stigma & discrimination around mental illness can be more difficult than the illness itself.
Fact. In a recent survey, 58% of people said this stigma and discrimination is equally as damaging, or harder to deal with than the illness itself. 87% of people with mental health problems have experienced discrimination.
People can’t work if they have a mental health problem.
Myth. With one in four people affected by mental health problems, you probably work with someone with a mental health problem. Many successful people, including MPs, sports stars, and business leaders have been open about difficulties with their mental health.
All the text in this post has been sourced from www.time-to-change.org.uk .
How to Stay Calm in a Global Pandemic?
Dr. Emma Hepburn has put together a fantastic guide to help people process and understand the mental and emotional hardship that has greatly characterized the COVID-19 pandemic, complete with some fantastic illustrations. You can find her guide by clicking here.
TED Talks about Mental Health and Mental Health Awareness
Here we have put together a list of TED Talks that might provide you with some much-needed solace and comfort regarding mental health. Please take a look and see if any of the following resonate with you. Please note our content warnings for each of the TED Talks below to make sure this is the right content for you.
What’s so funny about mental illness
Ruby Wax - Comedian
Ruby Wax, an American comedian, talks about mental health and mental illness and the stigma attached, using her own experience to highlight the differences in how we treat people with mental illness and those with physical or visible health issues.
CW: mental illness/ psychotic episodes / institutionalisation /strong language
On being crazy enough
Joshua Walters - Performer
Joshua Walters is a beatboxer who is also Bipolar, he talks about reframing his illness and taking advantage of his ‘creative manic edge’. He talks about his first psychotic episode and his experiences of being diagnosed and medicated. And how he has learned to manage his diagnosis.
CW: mental illness/ psychotic episodes / institutionalisation /strong language
Challenges and rewards of a culturally-informed approach to mental health
Dr. Jessica Dere – Clinical Lecturer
Dr. Jessica Dere is a clinical lecturer in the Department of Psychology and the Graduate Department of Psychological Clinical Science at UTSC. Dr. Dere explains how culture makes a difference when thinking about mental health and mental illness. Across mental health research, clinical care, and teaching, there are profound rewards to be had by truly understanding individuals in context.
CW: mental illness/ self-harm/ depression
How your mental health lived experience can heal others
Phoebe Ho – Psychology Student
Pheobe Ho is an Honours student studying Psychology at The University of Western Australia. Largely driven by her personal experiences, she is a passionate mental health advocate and avid mental health lived experience speaker. Using her lived experience of anorexia and bulimia, Pheobe explores how one can turn their mental health lived experience of challenge and hardship into a tool for inspiring others to heal, and how the universality of experiences can facilitate one’s mental health recovery.
CW: mental illness/ eating disorders/ self-harm/ institutionalization / lived experiences
The Human Test Volume 1
Ze Frank – Performance Artist
Ze Frank, a comedian, and writer presents a comedy human test designed to normalise small uncomfortable aspects of being a human with human feelings and urges.
CW: heights, intrusive thoughts, mildly-gross body humor, strong language, imposter syndrome, romantic relationships, breakups, embarrassment, OCD, funerals, blocking, road-rage.
The Human Test Volume 2
Ze Frank – Performance Artist
Ze Frank, a comedian and writer, presents a comedy human test designed to normalise small uncomfortable aspects of being a human with human feelings and urges (part 2)
CW: Allergies, mildly-gross body humor, strong language, racism, weight-loss, loneliness, blocking.
Nature as a Healer
Michael Miller - Biologist
In his TEDx talk, Mike will present to us the utility and science behind the amazing, restorative and healing power which Nature has freely and efficiently provided to us. He hopes he'll be able to convince you that when somebody says take a hike, it may be a good thing!
CW: biophilia, technology addiction, attention issues, stress, sensory deprivation, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, depression,
There’s no shame in taking care of your mental health.
Sangu Delle – Entrepreneur & Activist
When stress got to be too much for TED Fellow Sangu Delle, he had to confront his own deep prejudice: that men shouldn't take care of their mental health. In a personal talk, Delle shares how he learned to handle anxiety in a society that's uncomfortable with emotions. As he says: "Being honest about how we feel doesn't make us weak — it makes us human."
CW: anxiety attacks, anxiety, depression, suicide, schizophrenia, toxic masculinity, African cultural attitudes toward mental health, shame, stigma, perceptions of “madness,” substance abuse, stress.
Mental health for all by involving all
Vikram Patel - Psychiatrist
Nearly 450 million people are affected by mental illness worldwide. In wealthy nations, just half receive appropriate care, but in developing countries, close to 90 percent go untreated because psychiatrists are in such short supply. Vikram Patel outlines a highly promising approach -- training members of communities to give mental health interventions, empowering ordinary people to care for others.
CW: PPD, trauma, suicide, disability, dementia, autism spectrum disorder, postpartum depression.
Get back to nature for good mental health
Caroline Arnold - Educator
At a time when the World Health Organisation (WHO) is predicting depression will be the second biggest illness by 2020 - it’s time we took control of our own lives and those of future generations. Caroline presents the evidence on why our disconnection with nature is resulting in us being ‘fish out of water’ and shares the benefits of being outdoors and immersed in the natural world and how this free medicine or therapy – call it what you will - has benefited her and the young people she works alongside.
CW: mental health disorders, depression, anxiety, pressure, stress, PTSD, trauma, formal education issues.
Constantly seeing and being around plants helps people feel calmer and more relaxed. This decreases levels of anxiety and stress?and?can also facilitate healing and uplift mood.
Having plants in your study space Increases attentiveness, concentration, and memory and is known to boost creativity and increase productivity. You can read more on this here, and by reading the below facts.
Find out more about the benefits of plants on our 'Plants' page here.
Walking or running seems to give us an extra boost when done in natural environments rather than indoors, reducing feelings of anger, fatigue and sadness. We don't even need to do it for long! Exercising in green spaces for as little as five minutes was found to improve mood and feelings of self-esteem.
Stress is relieved within minutes of exposure to nature as measured by muscle tension, blood pressure, and brain activity. Time in green spaces significantly reduces your cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Nature also boosts endorphin levels and dopamine production, which promotes happiness!
Do you want to find out more about the benefits of being outside? Head over to our 'Getting Outside' page here.
Nature and Wildlife
Viewing local wildlife is a great way to connect and engage with your surroundings to feel part of something beautiful and larger than yourself. This type of activity asks us to be fully present in the moment and to accept nature for what it is, not what we wish it was, which can be a useful step toward trying to have the same attitude of acceptance toward ourselves. Plus, who doesn’t want to look at cute animals? Here’s a list of our top suggestions for local places to spot some cool creatures.
Find out more cool things about local nature and wildlife on our 'Nature and Wildlife' page here.
Sounds & music can inspire and entertain, but also can have powerful psychological effects that can improve your health and well-being. Check out some of the benefits and think about incorporating some of these in your everyday life. You might find that you feel more motivated, happy, and relaxed as a result!?
Do you want to find out more about the benefits of the good sounds and take a look at the list of our favourite podcasts, sounds and ASMRs? Head over to our 'Sounds' page here.
Grounding basically means to bring your focus to what is happening to you physically, either in your body or in your surroundings, instead of being trapped by the thoughts in your mind that are causing you to feel anxious. It helps you stay in the present moment instead of worrying about things that may happen in the future or events that have already happened, but you still find yourself going over and over them in your head.
Find out more about grounding and how to do a 5-4-3-2-1 technique on our 'Grounding' page here.