Mental Health Awareness Week gets underway today (Monday 10 May), with people encouraged to connect with nature and the environment.

This year's theme is ‘nature’ and, as the nation eases out of the Covid-19 lockdown, people are being urged to take time to look after their own mental health and wellbeing by getting out and about and enjoying the natural world.

As well as experiencing the great outdoors, the Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is inviting people to join a free webinar on Zoom from 2pm to 4pm tomorrow (Tuesday), where they will be able to connect with others, listen to personal stories and share experiences about how nature has had a positive impact on their mental wellbeing. The session will also include wellbeing tips and details of support available to people living in the Black Country. To book, visit eventbrite.  

Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic there has been an increase in a range of mental health conditions for adults, from low wellbeing and sleep problems to anxiety and depression, so this year's Mental Health Awareness Week is more important than ever.

“Research shows that spending quality time with nature can reduce stress, balance your mood and help you feel more positive. The important thing is to switch on your senses and really connect – whether that’s noticing nature when you are out on a run, or listening to the birds on a woodland walk.

“We are lucky to have so many fantastic parks and green spaces here in Wolverhampton where we can get closer to nature, from West, East and Bantock parks to the Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve, Pendeford Mill and the local canal network. 

"So please take time to look after your mental health and wellbeing this Mental Health Awareness Week. You can now meet up with 5 other people, or 1 other household, outdoors, but please remember to practice social distancing and stay 2 metres away from anyone you don't live with to help stop the spread of Covid-19.”

The Mental Health Foundation, which launched Mental Health Awareness Week 21 years ago, is calling on people to do 3 things this week: Experience Nature by getting out and about; Share Nature by taking a photo or video and posting on social media using the hashtags and #ConnectWithNature #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek; and Talk About Nature with family and friends. For more information about Mental Health Awareness Week, which continues until Sunday (16 May), please visit Mental Health Foundation

If you are experiencing stress, feelings of anxiety or low mood, please visit NHS – Mental Health for self assessment, audio guides and other practical tools. 

The Every Mind Matters campaign, provides simple tips and advice to start taking better care of your mental health. 

The City of Wolverhampton Council's #StaySafeBeKind campaign includes a range of health and wellbeing resources. 
The Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust's mental health helpline provides advice, support and signposting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to people of all ages. Call 0800 008 6516. 

You can self refer to Wolverhampton Healthy Minds or by calling 0800 923 0222 or 01902 441856, or alternatively speak to your GP. 

If you are having a difficult time or if you are worried about someone else, The Samaritans are there to listen. Visit Samaritans, call 116 123 or email for support.