Monday May 10 marked the beginning of Mental Health Awareness week, the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health.

This year the theme is nature and how connecting with nature can support good mental health and the benefits of being around nature in their local community in a range of digital and creative ways.

The Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce have joined businesses across the two counties in getting involved in shining a spotlight on mental health issues and promoting the benefits of nature. The Chamber have run a staff photography competition to coincide with the theme where staff were encouraged to find their inner Attenborough and be one with nature.

The best photographs were then used to create a college to promote the message of Mental Health Awareness Week across all Chamber media.

As part of the Time to Change initiative, which looks to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health problems, The Chamber has its own Time to Change Champions who look to support the campaigns overall message.

The Chamber’s Time to Change Champions have also introduced a new wellbeing initiative called ‘Cuppa Catch Up’s’ – these are bi-weekly virtual Zoom sessions where staff can drop in and have an informal 15-minute catch up with colleagues over a cup of tea or coffee. The sessions have been a great success so far and the team are looking forward to introducing new activities upon the return to the office.

Dawn Hardman, Director of HR at the Chamber, said: “We are pleased to be supporting and being involved in the promotion of Mental Health Awareness Week, particularly after the challenging times we have all experienced over the past year.

“Our Time to Change team play a valuable part and are passionate about helping to end the stigma associated with mental health.  By organising regular activities, including virtual “cuppa catchups”,  informal opportunities are created so that colleagues are able to talk about their day and how they are feeling, which in turn helps to create a culture of “it’s ok to talk about mental health”. This is more important than ever during these challenging times and as a local employer we believe we have a crucial role to play.”

For more information about this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week visit mentalhealth.org.uk/mhaw or join the conversation on social media using #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.

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