Updated: May 14, 2021
Hillingdon Councillors have encouraged residents to connect with nature as part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2021.
Research from the Mental Health Foundation has shown going for walks outside has been one of people's top coping strategies during the pandemic with 45% of us reporting that being in green spaces has been vital for our mental health.
This year's Mental Health Awareness week, 10-16 May, has two distinct aims: to inspire more people to connect with nature in new ways, and to convince decision makers at all levels that quality of and access to nature is a social justice and mental health issue, as well as an environmental one.
Talking to Hillingdon Vision, Conservative party Cabinet member for Health and Social Care Cllr Jane Palmer gave some advice on how people can to connect with nature in new ways:
"Try to find nature wherever you are during the day ,hear the birdsong ,or even notice the movement in the clouds. All of those can bring out calm and some joy"
"Our parks, The Hillingdon Trail, The Lido, or Little Britain to name a few, can all provide the place in which to free our minds and breathe in fresh air".
Labour Party Councillor for Barnhill, Kerri Prince, highlighted the need for decision makers to promote nature more:
"Too often mental health is only recognised and treated at crisis point, and we could do so much more to prevent people ever reaching crisis point. Nature is a key part of wellbeing, and more should be done to promote it. It isn't just about physical exercise - but mental too".
Cllr Prince was speaking as part of a Labour Group initiative to encourage Councillors to speak openly about mental health, asking for help, and the importance of nature after spending the last 14 months in near-isolation.
Cllr Palmer emphasised that if you are struggling, "you should not be afraid to seek help". As suggested by Cllr Prince, this could be by "talking to a loved one or friend about how you're feeling - or see your GP if you feel like you cannot get by. There is always help available."