Release date: 7 May 2021
People are being encouraged to boost their mental health by embracing nature and enjoying the benefits of the great outdoors.
Many have already experienced the mental health benefits of getting outdoors during the pandemic, which is the focus of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week which runs from 10 to 17 May.
Alison Challenger, Director of Public Health for West Sussex, said: “Connecting with nature has already helped many of us during the pandemic, and research has shown it is extremely beneficial to our mental health.
“We’re blessed with many stunning locations across West Sussex to enjoy, but you don’t have to live in the middle of the countryside to experience the benefits of nature.
“Spending some time outside in a garden or having a walk in a local park can be just as good at helping to boost our mood.”
Details of health, wellbeing and emotional support can be found on our website, while local mental health support is available from West Sussex Mind, Samaritans and the Sussex Mental Healthline by calling 0800 0309 500, 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
You can also listen to our recent podcast in which Public Health Consultant, Daniel Macintyre, discusses the importance of looking after our mental health and the support available to anyone finding it difficult during the pandemic.
Support is also available for children and young people. The Council’s Youth Emotional Support (YES) service helps 11-17 year olds who are experiencing anxiety, low mood, are self-harming or have other worries. The Sussex Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) website has help and guidance for children as well as parents and carers who support them with a range of difficulties and further support for those who need it.
If you plan to get out and about during Mental Health Awareness Week, you can find plenty of inspiration at ExperienceWestSussex.com, which has lots of ideas for places where you can enjoy the benefits of nature.
Remember to stick to the current COVID-19 restrictions at all times, wash your hands regularly, wear a facemask when required and maintain a social distance from others.
Respect wildlife by always keeping dogs on leads near livestock and please keep to footpaths and bridleways so as not to disturb ground nesting birds and other wildlife. Litter, particularly masks, can be dangerous to animals. Make sure you take your rubbish home with you or put it in a bin.
Always remember to enjoy the countryside respectfully by following the Countryside Code, which sets out how visitors to rural areas can behave safely and responsibly.