Mental Health Awareness Week - 10th - 16th May 2021

As we go into Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 we send our very best wishes to you as we take gentle steps forward at our own pace. We will be joining our friends at Derbyshire Mind for a week of wellbeing activities. Please see Derbyshire Mind’s social media pages for details of how to take part and we would love you to join us for our Nature Connection session on Thursday 14th May at 10 am.

Nature has supported so many of us during the pandemic and some of those experiences have included small, positive things that we have found nearby in very ordinary places.

We are all on our own journey and each of our situations is unique but Nature is there for us all with gentle changes that can inspire us, surprise us, calm us and delight us.

You may remember that we strive to be an inclusive community where all in Nature are valued and celebrated. In recent, difficult times, it has been extremely challenging for people on the edges of communities and more people have experienced difficulties than before. To respond to local community needs we are offering our “Green Recovery Plan” which focusses on supporting mental health and recovery from the effects of the pandemic. This is our gift to

people who live in the situations of most need within our local communities.

We have been working with our friends at Derbyshire Mind to offer wellbeing experiences to people living with mental health challenges. Our inclusive “Green Connections” wellbeing days are ready to be offered after restrictions have lifted. We have jointly secured full funding to offer free places for community groups and individual people whose mental health could be supported by spending time in Nature within our woodland setting.

Within our “Green Recovery Plan” we are also reaching out to support our wellbeing professionals community within Wellbeing at Whistlewood and through our national body, the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT). It has been an extremely challenging year for professionals who provide care and wellbeing services for others as we prepare for a time when our services will be needed more than ever. As the winners of the FHT “Green Therapy Business of the Year¨ Award 2020, we have been working with our National colleagues to support Green Recovery plans for wellbeing professionals and their clients. We will be speaking at the 2021 FHT National Virtual Congress in June where we will be speaking about the benefits of Nature connection for wellbeing professionals and their clients.

In partnership with our friends at the National Forest Company, the NHS and local organizations we are responding to supporting the mental and physical health of our local communities in partnership through green social prescriptions. A new, local initiative will be known as “Green Spring” and will include Wellbeing at Whistlewood as a partner within one of the Government’s seven “Test and Learn” sites for green social prescribing in England. We are confident that this initiative will make a significant difference to the mental health of local people and that the positive examples of the National Forest and Whistlewood Common as positive recovery stories will support our work in Nature together.

We are making meaningful connections with local GPs who are seeking to work in partnership with us. We are exploring pathways for us to offer further green wellbeing opportunities through social prescribing at Whistlewood Common and other locations that may support mental wellbeing. Our story is being heard within our communities and we are looking forward to developing new partnerships to increase our opportunities for wellbeing in Nature.

Three Good things invitation

We invite you to go outside for a short time, maybe ten minutes to a place in Nature that is nearby and appears to be ordinary. Gently allow yourself to just use your senses to experience just “Three Good Things” in Nature. You may like to write down, draw, photograph or record your good things in your own way.

Finding and recording “Three Good Things” in Nature each day has been demonstrated in research conducted by the University of Derby, Nature Connectedness Unit to be beneficial to our mental health. It does not take away difficult things but helps us to connect to Nature for our wellbeing by focusing on small things that are good within our day. The more we practice each day, the greater benefits we gain.

Our partnership with the University of Derby Nature Connectedness Research team has supported us to embed their research into all of our wellbeing opportunities and events. We look for “Three Good Things” as part of our daily personal Nature connection practice and record them using the “Go Jauntly¨ app. Go Jauntly was developed in partnership with our colleagues at Derby University and is free to download through app providers. The “Nature Notes” section allows us to record our good things as photos and/or comments and is great fun to use. The app also contains maps, walking routes and other features which help us to confidently step out into Nature.

Spring Poem

We end with a beautiful poem by A Warfield to celebrate Spring, poignant as we awaken in so many different ways.

The Awakening

Wake up slowly, wake up softly,

Wake up from your winter slumber

Spring is waiting, watching, wishing

She shines a light, a little longer each day

Willing for you to notice her

She spreads green growth amongst the branches.

She stirs the seeds beneath the soil.

One by one, each seed begins to bravely blossom,

Each in its own time.

Slowly, steadily – up and up

Towards the promise that the surface holds,

To feel the air, the sun, the light, the rain

Colours emerge from dark clay

Waving in the Spring Wind,

Calling to you, singing,

Wake up slowly, wake up softly,

Let Spring in - and feel her warmth,

As she tenderly reveals change is here.

The light is coming.

The Light is coming.

Spring has come again

- A. Warfield -

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