To mark day #2 of Mental Health Awareness Week, today we’re exploring the role in which discovery can play in helping boost our mental health.

Yesterday we kicked off #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek with an item focusing in on the benefits of movement, with our Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) kindly sharing their thoughts on the mental benefits of being more active.

Today some of those First Aiders return to share more thoughts, but first, let us set the scene!

Why discovery matters:

Mental health charity Mind have found that nature can be of great help to our mental health – improving mood; reducing stress, anger and anxiety; boosting confidence, reducing loneliness and more. Elsewhere, the Mental Health Foundation promotes the concept of ‘blue health’ – embracing the positive mental health benefits of spending time near water.

The findings are backed up by studies which show spending time in nature can significantly reduce levels of stress hormones and increase feelings of happiness. Other research has found benefits such as increased focus and attention span.

Linking this all back to yesterday’s theme of ‘Move’, it is clear that simply getting out and about – even if not in any form of high-intensity way, can be beneficial for us mentally.

What our Mental Health First Aiders feel:

That sentiment is backed up by Senior Biomedical Scientist (Microbiology), Gillian Nichol, who explains that adventuring and discovery help her to get “Fresh air and exercise and a change of scenery which provides a welcome distraction from the stresses and pressures of work.”

Patient Experience Facilitator, Anya Dyson, also finds joy in the little thing as she expands: “Discovering food and new places to take a picnic are my favourite things to do. Finding your own little happy place is the best feeling. Whether it’s basking in the sun or somewhere beautiful, it’s just such an amazing feeling.” Back indoors, colleagues can even discover new food for less at one of our partner restaurants, who offer #TeamGateshead colleagues exclusive discounts.

Anya isn’t the only one who likes to find benefit from areas of beauty, as Lisa English (Senior Programme Lead, Clinical) continues: “I like to have a few days away in the Lakes, Northumberland or North Yorkshire with my husband and dog to explore new places and relax. Even just few days helps you to recharge.”

And of course for some, a more structured approach to discovery brings just as much benefit, as highlighted by District Nurse Beverley Hope who said: “I enjoy fell walking, and although I can find it difficult initially, I feel a great sense of achievement when reaching the top!”. Those interested in such activities might be interested in learning more about the NHS North East Welbeing and Outdoor Activity group, founded by colleagues here at Gateshead.

Join us!

We’re extremely grateful for the help our Mental Health First Aiders have provided us in helping make this series of articles. Raising the profile of mental health in the workplace is a key responsibility of our MHFAs, alongside providing support and signposting where appropriate – and we’re always looking for more!

To find out more about the role of MHFAs, it’s well worth checking out our recent item on them here.

Alternatively, if you’d like to play your part in helping us build a more supportive workplace, you might want to become a First Aider yourself. For line managers, we’ve even launched a new dedicated 1-day session. To check out dates, times and locations of these sessions and sign-up, just use our dedicated registration form.