It’s Mental Health Awareness week starting today, and there’s something I want to say about that. This last year or so, with all that it has brought, has probably made most of us far more ‘aware’ about our own, or others’, mental health than we have been before.
Perhaps for me it has to some degree been ‘business as usual’, because my upbringing, the state of my own mental health, and the many years of working as a teacher, mentor, counsellor and psychotherapist, means that emotional well-being has always been high on my agenda.
Nonetheless, I have become much more aware of other people’s increased awareness – and, thankfully, wider acceptance of the impact of disturbances in mental health. There is still stigma, without doubt, and there is still some of the “they should just pull themselves together and get on with it” notion around, but in my experience the pandemic – and adverse results of lockdowns in particular – has alerted more of us more of the time to making sure we attend to emotional well-being as much as our physical health.
My personal and professional experience has taught me how being outdoors in nature can help our mental health enormously (as well as being fun, and sometimes helping nature itself too) and my work now is all about just that. There’s plenty of solid research too that’s reporting over and over again the links between improved mental health and a variety of ‘green’ experiences.
Whilst I’ve been working for years with self-selected groups and individuals finding solace and other benefits from guided forays into the natural world, I’ve decided to formalise the work under the umbrella of programme that I can offer to organisations… offer to anyone… with more specific detail and information about what might be achieved than I’ve ever offered in the past.
As those of you who have worked with me will know, I’ve always been reluctant to bring the formal aims and objectives, box-ticking business I inherited from my teaching career into psychological work – valuing much more the sense of learning as a process – but now it’s time to offer something else: a result of the process of my own learning, as well as the state we’re in.
So I will be launching this soon, but for now, here’s a taster of what it’s about and, as ever, comments, questions, and feedback are appreciated. There’s more information to come about the background of the programme and the people involved. There are also Case Studies in preparation.
So… onward. Plenty of work to be done!