Connect with nature during Mental Health Awareness Week

For Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May), health and care organisations across Leeds are reminding people of the support available to anyone who needs it and encouraging people to look after their wellbeing by connecting with nature.

The theme for this year’s awareness-raising week, organised by the Mental Health Foundation, has been chosen as a result of the pandemic. The Foundation’s research has shown that going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health. Websites which showed footage from webcams of wildlife saw hits increase by over 2000%. Wider studies also found that during lockdowns, people not only spent more time in nature but were noticing it more.

Dr Sarah Forbes  Associate Medical Director for NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures have been very challenging for us all, so looking after our mental health has never been more important.

“People may have been feeling lonely, isolated and anxious during the last year, but there are things we can all do to reduce these feelings and boost our emotional wellbeing. Heading outdoors and connecting with nature is a great way to do that – whether that’s going for walks, visiting a park, gardening, litter picking, exercising outdoors, there’s something for everyone.

“Physical activity boosts our sense of wellbeing and taking time to notice the natural world can help us feel less isolated and anxious. With lockdown restrictions easing, there are groups and activities across the city that people can safely get involved with. You can also meet up with friends and family outdoors.

“Whatever you do, it’s important to find ways to look after your emotional health. If you find yourself feeling low and think you are alone, please be reassured that you are not and that support is available.”

MindWell, the mental health website for people in Leeds, will be running a nature campaign all week, highlighting the different ways we can spend time with nature to boost our wellbeing. They will also be promoting different nature groups and activities you can join in Leeds, green spaces to visit and ways you can enjoy nature from home. Keep checking their new Connect with nature web page for information about events and outdoor groups across the city. (graphic attached)

Mental health support services

  • West Yorkshire mental health support line is a free service providing confidential support, advice, information and guidance for anyone concerned about their mental health or someone they care for. Anyone registered with a Leeds GP can call the helpline on 0800 183 0558. The service is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • MindWell is the mental health website for people in Leeds. The site includes a coronavirus mental health information hub which brings together information about self-help resources for mental health and where people in Leeds can find help for their mental health as well as practical offers of support during the Covid-19 pandemic:
  • Leeds Mental Wellbeing Service is for anyone aged 17+ registered with a Leeds GP and provides support and psychological therapies for common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. The service also provides online therapy courses and self-management tools which are available at any time day and night to help with a wide range of issues including stress and anxiety, mindfulness, depression and bereavement. Help is available immediately through online courses at
  • If you prefer talking therapies, you can also refer yourself through the website:
  • Children and young people can visit the MindMate website for information and support about their emotional health and wellbeing:
  • The NHS Every Mind Matters website also includes a wide range of resources to help with anxiety, low mood and stress.
  • If you’re struggling with your mental health, the NHS is here for you. Find out what support is available on our new mental health hub:

Support for people in crisis is also available:

  • Connect – a survivor-led local helpline which offers emotional support and information to people in Leeds every night from 6pm-2am on 0808 800 1212. Connect also provides online support through instant chat for people – Connect specialises in working with people at risk of suicide and self-harm and those with complex mental health needs.
  • Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s (LYPFT) Single Point of Access (SPA) – if you, or someone you’re worried about, needs urgent care or treatment for a mental health crisis call the SPA on 0800 183 1485 (open 24/7, every day).
  • Anyone whose life is in immediate danger should call 999.