The Bury College community has been celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week, a national initiative to raise awareness of mental health, through a variety of different events focused on the outdoors. This year’s theme is ‘Nature’, and Bury College staff and students have learnt about the benefits that spending time in the natural world can have for their mental wellbeing.

Students have been enjoying specially created tutorials on the connection between nature and their mood, as well as hearing the story of our very own bat population. The Mental Health and Wellbeing team have also released some informative content, and Bury College are currently recruiting five student Mental Health ambassadors to help support their peers.

Staff, too, have been getting involved, with activities such as a Bootcamp Fitness Class, a Mindfulness session, a Mile Walk and Talk, and Rounders.

At our Mindfulness session, staff learnt some relaxing breathing techniques, and reconnected with nature by focusing on each of their individual senses, appreciating the local flowers, and exploring our outside spaces. Jo Haslam, Health and Social Care Lecturer at Bury College, recognised the value of the session: “Mindfulness has really kept me sane, it’s something that’s got me through some hard times.” She adds, “it’s amazing for stress relief and the students benefit from it as well.”

We were joined by our Principal, Charlie Deane, for the Mile Walk and Talk. Staff from a number of different departments walked a mile’s worth of laps around the running track. Matt Cassell, Tackling Inactivity Project Co-ordinator, says that “being outdoors is good for both your mental and physical health, and after so long inside over lockdown, it is beneficial to be back outside.” Staff also used the opportunity for some socialising with people they wouldn’t usually see, something that has been especially difficult over the last year.

We have also used Mental Health Awareness Week to launch the Staff Wellbeing Hub, which provides information, advice and resources on a number of key topics, such as grief and loss, financial wellbeing, sleep and mindfulness. It also signposts staff to additional services.

Lisa Woodman, Director of Human Resources, Student and Customer Services said “We are really pleased to have been able to launch the staff Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub during Mental Health Awareness Week. It will provide valuable resources for staff to use at times when they need it most, and will add to the support we already have in place. Positive mental health and wellbeing is such an important factor to focus on, and we want to do all that we can to help our staff have positive mental health and know how to access support if they feel their mental health is compromised.”

Bury College is committed to continually supporting our students and staff in their welfare. If you would like to see more of what our staff have been up to this week, check out this video showcasing photos from their time spent in nature: