Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

Find your moments for movement

It's Mental Health Awareness Week!

We are all acutely more aware of our mental health nowadays, but it's helpful to shine a light on what mental health means to people, what good and bad mental health look like and look at ways to improve our mental health.

This year’s theme is ‘Movement: moving more for our mental health’ which will highlight how important movement is for our mental health. Unfortunately, many of us struggle to move enough for many different reasons but, Mental Health Awareness Week aims to help people find ‘moments for movement’ in their everyday routines. This can be as simple as going for a walk around your neighbourhood, or putting on music and dancing around your living room; anything that gets those endorphins going and lifts your mood. It is well-known that exercise can increase your energy, reduce stress and anxiety, and boost your self-esteem.

What does mental health mean?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the normal stresses of life, learn and work well, fulfil their abilities, and contribute to society. It encompasses emotional, psychological and social well-being and influences one’s cognition, perception, decision-making and ultimately behaviour.

In 2019, about 970 million people worldwide were reported to be suffering from a mental disorder, with the most common being anxiety and depression. This equates to about 1 in 8 people, including about 14% of the world’s adolescent population. The number of people suffering from mental disorders has risen significantly throughout the years; in fact, depression and anxiety were said to have gone up 25% during the first year of the pandemic. Mental disorders are defined by the WHO as ‘health conditions that affect and alter cognitive functioning, emotional responses, and interactions/behaviour.’

What are the signs of mental health problems?

Some early signs to look out for include:

  • Sleeping too much or difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
  • Having a low mood (feeling sad/depressed) for a prolonged time
  • Prolonged anxiety, worry or stress
  • Extreme mood swings or emotional outbursts - anger or euphoria
  • Extreme feelings of guilt, worthlessness or low self-esteem
  • Lack of appetite or overeating
  • Substance abuse
  • Frequently zoning out
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Self-isolating (when this is out of character) and avoiding social situations
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others

How to get moving more!

This Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re being encouraged to get moving more for our mental health.

  • Find moments for movement every day
    When life is busy, finding time for wellbeing-boosting activities can be tricky. Finding moments for movement is easier than you think. Why not use the time you spend waiting to move more? When you’re waiting for the kettle to boil; for your kids to come out of school; or for a bus to arrive. These moments will add up!
  • Set small, achievable goals
    Set small goals and build on them. You can start by walking around the block and pushing yourself a little further daily.
  • Take a break from sitting
    Many of us spend a lot of time sitting; for work, studying or driving. Then we get home and plonk ourselves in front of the TV. Research shows that this is unhealthy and we should take regular breaks, to stand, stretch or walk about.
  • Find the fun!
    Choose an activity that you enjoy. Stop thinking of exercise as a chore and find something you can enjoy doing; this will help you move more and enjoy it more. Win-win!
  • Move in nature
    Research suggests that exercise in nature affects our well-being more positively than exercise indoors. Whether it’s a walk in the countryside, trail running, or even cold water swimming! Parks, gardens, and nature reserves, all provide perfect opportunities for movement in nature.
  • Use music
    We all have favourite tunes that get us dancing, so, crank them up; you could have a living room disco or a dance-off with the family!

And if you need more support you could try some of these helplines:

Samaritans: 116 123 (24 hours a day)

Hopeline247 (for people under 35): 0800 068 4141 (9am - 10pm weekdays, 2pm - 10pm weekends)

Campaign Against Living Miserably: 0800 585858 (5pm to midnight every day)

Mind: 0300 123 3393 (9am - 6pm weekdays)

NHS urgent mental health helpline (England Only): Find your local NHS helpline for 24-hour support and advice

Mind Out (LGBTQ): Online chat support Mon - Wed or call 01273 204050 (Mon - Thurs 7pm - 9:30pm)

C.A.L.L (Wales): 0800 132 737 or text help to 81066 (24 hours a day)

The Mix (for people under 25): Text THEMIX to 85258 (24 hours a day)


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