Mental Health Awareness Week 10- 16 May 2021
Published: 03 May 2021
Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 begins on 10 May and this year’s theme is nature. At York St John University, our environmental wellbeing team have taken inspiration from our biodiverse campus and the incredible organisations we know and work with to provide our University community with events, resources, tips and support.
Across the week, join us by building in some small yet effective activities into your daily lives to feel more positive and able to get the most out of life.
Connection is about relating to one and other and feeling understood. It’s about speaking to the people in your life and building new connections to expand your circles, at work or in your local community. Developing more connections will support and enrich you every day.
- Hear from staff and students at York St John showing how connecting to nature can be a lifeline: our Grounds team have published a blog on the positive effects of gardening, Martin Bond from YSJ Active has written about allotment nutrition, and Yumino Simpson shares a seminar on how to help hedgehogs.
- Listen to the excellent series of ‘Why don’t we talk about mental health?’ podcasts by YSJ Careers Advisor Matt Jones
- Invite friends and family to visit York St John's award-winning, biodiverse grounds and download our brand new YSJ Campus Nature Map (PDF, 2MB).
- See how York St John is making a difference to reducing our environmental impact
- Find out how free access to York St John allotment plots has planted hope and nurtured community spirit during the pandemic.
- Watch a film connecting to nature if you can’t get outdoors Unwind with 20 minutes in nature | Springwatch - BBC - YouTube
Engaging in regular physical activity is known to go hand in hand with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. From a short walk to manage your day to a run or bike ride, being active outdoors can bring huge benefits for mental health. You don’t have to go anywhere special to be more active in nature, there’s lots you can do in a garden, urban green spaces or on campus.
Release feel-good hormones by discovering a physical activity you enjoy, that suits your level of mobility and fitness.
- YSJActive are offering the following sessions for FREE as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.
Female Only Gym – Tuesday and Thursday: 09:30 – 10:30 and 10:45 – 11:45, Wednesday: 17:50 – 18:50
Gym sessions – Monday - Friday 12:00 – 13:00
Zumba – Friday 17:00 – 18:00 All sessions must be booked via the online store please.
Yoga and Meditation for Inner Peace: Thursday 13th May 7.30-8.30pm with Jenny Carpenter (School of Education, Language & Psychology). This gentle one hour practice will guide you through seated yogic movements for the whole body and help you connect to your breathing. You will become aware of your mind and the slowing down of your nervous system. The practice will end with a deep relaxation and meditation.
Join here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/7207791339?pwd=cTlmYWtjWDBYRlA1Skd2MENEbjVUUT09
Meeting ID: 720 779 1339
- Take a guided tour of our beautiful, biodiverse campus and grounds. Look out for our bird nesting boxes, rare tansy beetle habitats and find out what makes us a hedgehog friendly campus. Book here.
- Download our YSJ Mental Health Week and Nature guide PDF 0.3MB to activities, spaces and places to visit, walk and cycle in York.
- Exercise in nature for 30 minutes a day by signing up to the Mental Health Foundations’ Take Action, Get Active campaign.
- Lace up for the Mental Health UK 5k challenge! Get involved in a fun, accessible and collaborative way to fundraise for Mental Health UK.
Being in a state of ‘mindfulness’ has been shown to be associated with a positive mental state. Greater awareness of the world around us helps us see the unusual and notice simple pleasures like the changing seasons. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you. Here’s how to get started with mindfulness or forest bathing.
- Try the Forestry Commission’s tips and activities for forest bathing
- Take 10 minutes to have a go at guided mindfulness meditation on YouTube with a clinical psychologist
- Immerse yourself in stunning natural history footage from the BBC’s Mindful Escapes
- Watch the birds using this handy guide from the Wildlife Trusts to identify common species
- Top tip: book ‘you time’ in your calendar to ensure you have space to stop, think and head outside every day.
Learning something new is good for your brain. Try something different, rediscover an old interest or sign up for a course you’ve always wanted to do to improve your confidence and widen your skillset. Take on a new responsibility at work, do some arts and crafts or cook up up an interesting recipe. The challenge and enjoyment of learning new things gives a sense of fulfilment that is second to none.
- Explore the benefits of mindfulness in nature Can Nature Make Us Healthier? | Mindful Escapes | BBC Earth - YouTube
- Discover Countryfile’s A to Z of mindfulness in nature
- Read Thriving with Nature - a guide to making the most of the UK's natural spaces for our mental health and wellbeing.
- Try some of the ideas in ‘nature and mental health’ from Mind, including growing food, bringing nature indoors or connecting with animals
- Learn how to make a hedgehog cafe, build a bird bath or create a wildlife-friendly garden with help from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
While you’re studying...
Mental Health Awareness Week takes place during a stressful time for students completing end of year assessments.
York St John University Students Union are here to help.
Read SU President Jamie’s personal experience of mental health challenges and what support services available.
There's some good advice in this exam stress tips blog
Head over to the YSJSU Facebook page where you can find a new episode of the Boys Don’t Cry podcast, student submissions on what mental health means to them and a Q&A session hosted by Jamie.
And don't forget - our Wellbeing and Welfare Teams are here to support you with anything from an informal chat to 24/7 counselling services.
Giving encapsulates many things – from showing goodwill and generosity of spirit to giving presents and giving up our time. Evidence suggests that ‘giving back’ or helping others promotes wellbeing for all ages. Why not do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. You could even volunteer your time with a charity or join an online community to give and receive peer support in equal measure. The key to giving is to look outwards, as well as inwards. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.
Here are are some of the fantastic local charities you could support.