ELCAP gets back to nature for Mental Health Awareness Week

ELCAP gets back to nature for Mental Health Awareness Week

Public awareness of the importance of mental health and wellbeing has never been greater, but much more can be done.

That’s why ELCAP is getting involved in Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 10 to 16 May 2021.

The theme for this year’s Awareness Week is nature.

During lockdown, millions of people got back to nature. When cafés, leisure facilities and shops were closed, we enjoyed outdoor space instead.

Research from the Mental Health Foundation found that going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Forty-five per cent of people reported that being in green spaces had been vital for their mental health.

Mental Health Awareness Week has two aims:

  • To inspire more people to connect with nature in new ways, noticing the impact that this connection can have on their mental health.
  • To convince decision makers at all levels that access to and quality of nature is a mental health and social justice issue, as well as an environmental one.

Billy McLachlan, an ELCAP Support Practitioner and acclaimed photographer, outlined what the Awareness Week means to him:

“I find taking photos and being in nature very good for my mental health, and more so during COVID. Things can get on top of me a little at times and I can find myself a little down. Going out into nature and experiencing the smells, views and the wonder of the stars is something that really takes my mind to a better place.”

During Mental Health Awareness Week, ELCAP is encouraging the individuals it supports and staff to:

  • Experience nature: Take time to recognise and grow your connection with nature during the week. Take a moment to notice and celebrate nature in your daily life. You might be surprised by what you notice.
  • Share nature: Take a photo of the nature you’ve connected with, to share your experience and inspire others. Please send your photos to enquiries@elcap.org. We will share them on our Facebook page, using the hashtags #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.
  • Talk about nature: Discuss how we can find new ways to connect with nature in our community.

ELCAP Chief Executive, Paul White, said:

“We all experience fluctuations in our mental health and it’s important for us to remember that we’re not alone and that there are techniques and tools which can help us manage.

We welcome the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week because we can enjoy nature for free. We’re fortunate that East Lothian and Midlothian have lots of beautiful green space which we can discover and explore for the benefit of our mental wellbeing.”

Billy McLachan has kindly shared a stunning photo of Barns Ness Lighthouse, to illustrate just one of his connections with nature.

Check out ELCAP’s Facebook page on 10 May 2021 to enjoy the view.