Mental Health Awareness Week was this week (10th - 16th May), and with this year's theme set as Nature, local mental health charity Changes Bristol used this opportunity to celebrate the great outdoors.
The charity asked their members, staff and volunteers to observe nature's perfect power and send in their photography of what the environment means to them along with a sentence on it's connection with their mental health. Studies from the Mental Health Foundation found that 50% of UK adults say being close to nature improves their mental health and two thirds say that it gives them positive emotions. Spending time with nature has a direct improvement to a persons wellbeing, reducing feelings of anxiety, stress and depression.
Changes Bristol designed this project to be as accessible as possible, suggesting photographs or videos to be sent in which are not difficult to take, be it a view from a short walk, their local park or a neighbouring tree. Alex Henden, Development Manager for Changes Bristol (and regular volunteer here at The Farm!) explained, "we wanted to create an inclusive project which shows that nature is all around us, which can include the view of the sky from your window, a potted plant and everything that grows in the cracks in the pavement."
Since the start of the pandemic, Changes Bristol found that 3 times as many people were accessing the charity for support. They have adjusted the services available to help people in mental health distress which includes both in-person and online peer support groups, befriending for one-to-one support and a new walk and talk project. All services are free, open-ended (members can attend as many or as few as they wish) and there is no need for diagnosis or GP referral. Through attending peer support groups, 86% of Changes Bristol members have reported that they feel less socially isolated and have the ability to cope with negative feelings.
Alex continued, "Getting close to nature and outside is hugely beneficial for your mental health, so we wanted to be able to inspire our members to do this and find the beauty in the everyday. This would encourage feelings of purpose, confidence and a mindful calmness."
We hope that this video also inspires you to spend some time outdoors, be it on your doorstep, at a local park or at The Community Farm.