On Wednesday, 12 May, Skills Centre Plus took a day off from their normal activities to focus on the mental health needs of their students. This came during mental health awareness week, which aims each year to raise awareness in the UK about mental health problems and how they affect people.
Mental health awareness week was created by the Mental Health Foundation 21 years ago to address a lack of public understanding of the prevalence of mental health problems and extent of its effects. With 1 in 4 people in England experiencing a mental health problem of some kind each year, and 16% experiencing a common mental health problem during any given week, it is something not nearly talked about enough.
This year's theme was Nature and the role that it plays in our mental health. The Mental Health Foundation chose this because nature has an important role in maintaining positive mental health. Regarding this Caroline Lewis, CEO of the charity Mind BLMK, said: “Connecting with nature is an essential part of maintaining positive mental health and well-being.
“When we’re in nature, it can help to keep us grounded and present. It allows you to step away from your daily worries or stresses and help to improve your mood”.
The Mental Health Foundation also found that during the pandemic “going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45 percent of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health”.
This is especially important for students, who have been impacted greatly by the pandemic, and those with existing mental health problems. That is why the Skills Centre students spent the day in Normanby Park, close to nature at the Normanby PLUS Enterprise Centre (a collaborative project between Skills Centre PLUS, North Lincolnshire Council and Normanby Country Park).
A day out in the park gave students a chance to connect with nature, engage in physical and social activities and provided a variety of experiences that are hard to find in school.
Some of the activities included archery, football, rounders, walking, croquet, boules and pick up sticks. The chance for students to interact in a calm and relaxing environment is very beneficial, principally for those with Social, Emotional Mental Health (SEMH) problems.
Students also had the chance to meet Tess the friendly Chihuahua! Interacting with and petting dogs has been shown to be a great stress-reliever among students and has even been linked to higher performance in their studies.