Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

Mental Health Awareness Week graphic 2024.

This year, Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 13-19 May, with a focus on “Movement: moving more for our mental health.” We are therefore embracing the powerful mind-body connection and encouraging all colleagues and those we support to get active for their mental wellbeing. 

The benefits of physical activity for mental health 

Regular physical activity has been shown to provide a multitude of benefits for our mental health, including: 

  • improved brain health and cognitive function 
  • reduced risk of anxiety and depression 
  • better sleep quality 
  • boosted mood, energy levels and self-esteem 
  • overall enhanced quality of life 

Even small amounts of activity can provide a mental health boost by increasing alertness and elevating mood. The mind and body are intrinsically linked — by taking care of our physical health through movement, we are also supporting our mental and emotional wellbeing. 

The ‘Be Active’ challenge 

To prioritise mental health, this week and beyond, we are asking all teams, services, colleagues, and those we support to do the ‘Be Active’ challenge. We are encouraging everyone to find ways to move more and incorporate physical activities into their daily routines. Here are some examples of physical activity that could help to improve your day: 

  • going for a walk during breaks or holding “walk and talk” meetings 
  • taking a dance break at home or with colleagues at work 
  • cycling or running, whether outdoors or using indoor equipment 
  • joining an exercise class like yoga, Zumba, or strength training 
  • even pottering around the garden and cleaning counts! 

Colin Mitchell, our Head of Health and Safety and Wellbeing, said, “While it may not always be easy to find time to be active, especially during a busy working week, there are different ways to get some physical activity into your day.”  

Here are Colin’s top tips: 

  • It doesn’t have to be a long gym session — a short burst of 10 minutes of brisk walking can boost your mood and increase your mental alertness and energy. 
  • Schedule an activity into your day. If it is in your “diary” then it is more likely to happen. 
  • The hardest step is to put your trainers on, so get your activity clothing or equipment ready and laid out the night before.  
  • Explore a new route, a different area or a park that you have not yet visited. Having variety, rather than the same routine, can also help to motivate you. 
  • Team up with someone — arranging to go walking or out with a friend or colleague will hold you and them responsible. You don’t want to let them down! 
  • “I wrote a complete best man’s speech in my head while out for a run!” Think, or don’t think when exercising. It is up to you. 
  • Reward yourself — finished that long walk or run, then have a coffee and, yes, have that cake — you have earned it! 
  • Enjoy yourself! It is a real privilege to be able to be outside and be active. Take in your surroundings, breathe in the fresh air and smile! 

The goal is to move in whichever way feels best and is suited to abilities, knowing that every step provides mental health benefits. Share how you are getting active using #MovingMoreForMentalHealth and help to inspire others. 

Opening up 

In addition to physical movement, having open and honest conversations about mental health is crucial at Active Care Group. We aim to create an environment where every individual — whether a colleague, someone receiving our support services or their loved ones — feels comfortable and supported in sharing their feelings and experiences. 

As an organisation supporting people with a wide range of needs, mental health is deeply engrained in our person-centred approach and behaviours. We understand that mental health exists on a spectrum, with good days and difficult days. Our role is to provide compassionate, non-judgmental support that meets each person wherever they are on their unique journey. 

We believe that no one should struggle alone, and sharing how you feel can provide immense relief. Whether individuals within our teams wish to speak to a trusted friend, a caring colleague, a professional counsellor (through our Employee Assistance Programme, for instance), or with one of our qualified mental health first aiders, we encourage everyone we work with to express how they feel. Likewise, for those we support, we encourage conversations with their individual support teams, mental health professionals involved in their care, and loved ones.  

Feeling heard, understood and accepted is a vital step in mental health recovery. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing significant emotional distress impacting daily life, there are a variety of suitable professional support options to explore, such as: 

  • speaking to a GP 
  • accessing NHS psychological therapy services (IAPT) 
  • contacting helplines like Samaritans, Mind, and Mental Health UK 
  • utilising local community groups and resources