Residents being urged to connect with nature in bid to improve mental health

Residents across Bath and the surrounding area are being urged to connect with nature to support good mental health as part of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

Research has shown that one in four people will experience mental health issues each year, and at any one time, one in six working adults are experiencing depression, anxiety, or problems relating to stress.

Spending time in green open spaces or bringing nature into your environment can provide physical and mental wellbeing benefits by improving your mood, reducing feelings of stress or anger, or helping you to take time out and feel more relaxed.

‘Nature’ was chosen as the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation.

Bath & North East Somerset Council is supporting the week with a social media wellbeing campaign and face to face and online events in support of Mental Health Week are being held across the district.

Becky Reynolds, Bath and North East Somerset’s Director of Public Health, said: “With lockdown and coronavirus restrictions we’ve all been under pressure during the past year.

“Many are facing worries over money, are caring for others, or have experienced increased feelings of loneliness and isolation.

“It takes a toll on our mental health, but research shows that enjoying nature in the countryside, in parks, in our gardens or even just looking at pictures of nature is a huge tonic and reduces anger, fear and stress.

“I’d urge residents during Mental Health Awareness Week to take time out to reconnect with nature and explore the benefits it can have on your wellbeing.”

Councillor Dine Romero, cabinet member for Children and Young People, Communities and Culture, added: “Over the past year lots of us turned to nature to get through the lockdowns and our daily walks became invaluable.

“Walking in nature, even in urban nature, boosts your mood and research shows that the sense of connection with the natural world contributes to happiness.

“Taking time to look after your mental health is essential so why not take advantage of some of the free events being held across Bath and North Somerset to support your mental health?

“There’s lots to choose from including lakeside walks, gardening lessons and even alfresco creative workshops.”

Over the past year, The Community Wellbeing Hub and its key partner the mental health service Bath Mind, has provided support to hundreds of residents.

Kate Morton, Chief Executive Officer of Bath Mind, said: “We know that our resilience has never been tested more than during the last fourteen months.  As we come out of lockdown, we need rethink our priorities.

“During Mental Health Awareness Week, we should re-connect with the outside world as part of our reset – to appreciate the natural world.  This is so vital for our general health and wellbeing.”

Mark Rowland Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation added: “Mental Health Awareness Week has grown to be one of the biggest awareness weeks in the UK.

“During the week, we want to hear people’s stories about how the natural world has supported their mental health.

“We also want to highlight the huge disparities between who is and who isn’t able to access nature.

“We want the week to explore how everyone across the UK can connect with nature and experience the mental health benefits wherever they live.”

Bath Echo