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Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

By Chloe Hall

Mental Health Awareness Week begins on Monday 13th May.

This year’s theme is ‘Movement: moving more for our mental health’

Medical experts are convinced that most forms of movement make a positive impact on our mental wellbeing. However, despite realising the significance of movement in our lives, many of us struggle to find time to exercise enough. Therefore, this year’s themed week is devoted to inspiring people to make more time for taking some exercise.

This does not have to entail a programme of vigorous activities at a gym, or signing up for a half marathon! It could mean simply going out for a short walk – even a few minutes can make a difference. And for those who feel uninhibited enough, perhaps dancing to some favourite tracks, or undertaking an informal workout might be appealing options. Or with the long hoped for return of the sunnier months, doing some jobs around the garden could prove doubly beneficial. And don’t forget that housework is movement, as is popping to a local shop, or running an errand whether for yourself or a neighbour. 

The Mental Health Foundation recommends an alternative way to increase the amount of movement in our daily lives. Rather than trying to incorporate a time slot for exercise into already busy days, perhaps we could aim to move more when we are actually waiting for something else to happen. For example, when the kettle is warming up, a saucepan is not ready to simmer, that late bus is yet to arrive, or, why not, when we find ourselves frustratingly on hold on the phone. It might be possible to take some informal exercise at moments like these, or do some stretching, or add a few paces to the daily tally. Try it and see how things turn out. You may be pleasantly surprised. 

The benefit of taking more care of our physical health can also help to prevent, or ease, mental health problems because it can improve our mood, and help to increase our levels of concentration. Exercise also helps us to relax, sleep better, and can reduce feelings of anxiety or stress. This is because it can bring a sense of perspective, as well as help to decrease our blood pressure. 

Commitment is just one hurdle that can be tricky to negotiate when it comes to exercise. Another is scale. It is vital to remember that goals should always be realistic and achievable. It might be possible to start with a short stroll. The important thing is to start in the first place, and to feel positive about it. This could prove important for anybody who works at a desk, or from home. Moreover, we all spend time sitting down to relax. Taking regular breaks at work could involve stretching, walking around, even briefly popping outside, if appropriate. 

Sometimes it may be possible to do some exercises in a group or with a friend. Adding a social dimension to movement is beneficial to our mental health because interaction contributes to positive self esteem and a more purposeful mood. Laughter is even better. 

Does meeting for a coffee have to be at a noisy table or a bustling counter? Perhaps a takeaway coffee might be a good opportunity for a cheery walk – and not one dashed off at breakneck pace. 

Self confidence is almost always vitally important. It is crucial not to judge ourselves by looking at others, particularly when it comes to exercise. Movement never has to mean competing, and it is certainly not just for fit looking people sprinting past in their latest fashion conscious tracksuits. Any form of exercise which raises the heart rate in a sensible and realistic way is the aim. Our goals as individuals are the ones that matter, and they will help us to de-stress. That will naturally benefit our mental wellbeing. This is especially true when we are feeling anxious or unmotivated. Just walking upstairs or from room to room could prove to be a positive start. 

Of course a themed week can be a chance to consider taking up a new activity, possibly something we have thought about from time to time but never got around to trying. The impact on our self esteem is likely to be positive. Again this doesn’t have to mean hiking across the moors, or joining an all singing, all dancing chorus line, tap or ballroom class. Volunteering a little of our time for a local charity can add movement to our lives. For instance, supporting the community litter picking group for an hour or two each month. If we make a new friend along the way, that’s all to the good too, as socialising definitely improves personal outlook. 

Finally, when we add movement to our lives it is important to acknowledge whatever we have managed as an achievement, however small the initial change happens to be. Positive thinking is a good way to inspire or comfort ourselves, it can help to improve our self esteem, and benefit our mental health. 

So enjoy this year’s mental health awareness week and perhaps aim to set yourself a new, manageable, exercise goal. It may end up lasting you much longer than the few days of a themed week. Whatever you achieve, don’t forget the positive impact that movement can have on your mental wellbeing. That really is an achievement. 


For expert advice and suggestions about the importance of exercise, please visit:

There’s a lot of advice and help online for anyone who is finding things difficult. You could try looking at one or more of these sources of information:


HFEH Mind CYP Services

The Circle

Young Minds

NHS – Every Mind Matters

If you live in Hammersmith, Fulham, Ealing or Hounslow then join our Physical and Mental Health Focus Group and help shape the future of mental health.

Posted on: 7th May 2024

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