Hide me!

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

Nature is a powerful tool in maintaining and improving mental health. It can bring perspective, moments of inner peace, joy and wonderment. It can make us feel physically and emotionally better. But nature is not something everyone has access to. 13% of households in the UK do not have access to a garden[1], other people are unable to get out into nature, and there are inequalities in access to green space. People of colour, young people and lower-income households are all less likely to have access to nature.

Nature should not be a luxury.

 

Nature is everywhere, nature is local, nature is us! – We all belong in nature” – Becky Crowther, Policy Coordinator

 

 

 

 

 

It is a resource that must be available for everyone to enjoy – as basic as having access to clean water or a safe roof over our heads. Local and national governments need to consider their role in making this a reality for everyone[1]”. – Mental Health Foundation

This mental health awareness week, the Mental Health Foundation have made their theme nature, in recognition of how important this is to our wellbeing. With LGBTI communities at greater risk of poor mental health, this is a time to celebrate how you connect with nature. The Mental Health Foundation ask that this week we take moments to:

  • Experience nature: take time to recognise and grow your connection with nature during the week. Take a moment to notice and celebrate nature in your daily life. You might be surprised by what you notice!”
  • “Share nature: Take a photo, video or sound recording and share the connections you’ve made during the week, to inspire others. Join the discussion on how you’re connecting with nature by using the hashtags #ConnectWithNature #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek”
  • Talk about nature: “discuss in your family, school, workplace and community how you can help encourage people to find new ways to connect with nature in your local environment”.

We asked our team what nature means to them, and to share their favourite pictures. For some staff, nature represents beauty, and has a ‘grounding’ effect. Oceana, our Community Engagement Officer, writes:

This is “my go to “I need grounding – paddling required” spot overlooking Arran. 

And sends us something beautiful from their garden:

Scott, our Development Manager, finds that connecting with nature gives him time and space to reflect, on good days and bad”. His favourite spot is on the end of the Granton Harbour Breakwater, where he is sometimes joined in his reflection by a crane:

 

 

 

Ella, our Policy Officer, sends us a picture of her favourite local nature spot, Arthur’s Seat (left), and writes:

“If ever I’ve got a lot on my mind, the climb helps me work it out and distract myself and the view just reminds me what a beautiful city Edinburgh is”.

 

 

 

 

 

And Eleanor, our Community Development Officer, writes:

“During lockdown I found an old pallet on the street and have been using it to grow tomatoes, carrots and herbs. Watching seedlings slowly emerge and grow has given me small moments of joy. Seeing the fruits of my labour (no pun intended) has made me feel more connected to nature and to the food I consume. Hopefully I can keep the tomatoes alive long enough to see one appear…”

[1] https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week/why-nature

[1] https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week/why-nature

LGBTI Visibility Mark survey opens

Between 2017 and 2020, we visited people all over Scotland, as well as surveying hundreds online, to capture the diverse experiences of the rural LGBTI community. We collated these stories and statistics into our research report ‘Further Out‘; the first of its kind in Scotland. We found high levels of poor mental health for LGBTI people living rurally, stemming from greater prejudice, isolation and minority stress, as well as a lack of access to inclusive services and spaces.

Recognising this, and the need for community-led approaches, the Scottish Government approved funding for the development of an LGBTI visibility mark. Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:

“Recent research by the Equality Network tells us that feelings of social isolation can be compounded further for LGBTI people living in a rural setting. This new funding will allow the Equality Network to create an LGBTI Visibility project, working with a partnership of organisations and ‘ambassadors’ from the LGBTI community itself to advocate for the needs of LGBTI people in rural and island Scotland.

It will seek to encourage willing local community spaces, such as cafes, cinemas, theatres and leisure centres, to sign up to the scheme to show that they are a safe space where LGBTI people can go and be themselves. The Scottish Government is committed to advancing equality for LGBTI people, and promoting, protecting and realising the rights of every LGBTI person in Scotland. This fund is another step in the direction to do that.”

We are pleased to be working alongside Highland Pride, Four Pillars, Somewhere and Dumfries & Galloway LGBT Plus to make this project a national success. We also want your input on the design and features of the mark. There is still time to fill in our survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ruralLGBTIvisibility