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Mental Health Awareness Week 2024: How Movement Can Benefit Our Mental Health

What is Mental Health Awareness Week?

An annual event, Mental Health Awareness Week serves as a pivotal platform to advocate for understanding, destigmatising and supporting mental health concerns. A different theme is chosen every year, to help foster conversations, educate and empower individuals to prioritise their mental well-being.


What is the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week?

The theme in 2024 is “Movement: Moving more for our Mental Health”. 


People playing cricket outside

Why is moving at work and school important?

Many of us have been conditioned through our experience of the education system and the set-up of most corporate workplaces, to spend the majority of our time indoors, staring at screens and stuck in sedentary seated positions. This is counter-intuitive and detrimental to our general health and wellbeing. We need to be reminded to move our bodies. 


Nature designed us to move. When we move, we benefit both our mental and physical health, especially if we get outside! 


Are workplaces and schools aware of the need to build in more movement?

Workplaces and the school system are generally not up to speed on what it would take to bring more movement into the set-up and design of our days. We can all play our part, though - individually and collectively - by being the catalyst for change, encouraging educational settings and organisations to devote greater consideration to incorporating the benefits of movement. 


What can organisations address to facilitate movement in their setting?

Your own workplace could look at simple initiatives such as space design, ergonomic seating and ways in which the team could be encouraged to stay moving whilst at school / work (e.g. standing / walking meetings). There are more specific examples below.


How can you personally encourage more movement at work?

Below are my top tips to help you advocate for more movement:


YOUR WORKPLACE


1. Lead Yourself First

Incorporate movement into your own workday and share your experiences with colleagues. Whether it’s taking regular stretch breaks, using a standing desk or organising walking meetings, demonstrate the benefits of staying active and encourage others to join you.


2. Educate and Raise Awareness

Highlight the importance of movement for physical and mental well-being by sharing relevant articles, research studies or success stories with your colleagues and managers. Help dispel common myths or misconceptions about movement at work and emphasise its positive impact on productivity, creativity, and overall health.


3. Collaborate and Suggest Solutions

Collaborate with colleagues to identify opportunities for integrating more movement into the work environment. Propose initiatives such as standing desks, outdoor meetings incorporating movement, improved outdoor spaces for breaks and on-site exercise spaces. Present evidence-based arguments and potential solutions to management, emphasising the potential benefits for employee satisfaction, retention, and performance.


Work colleagues having an outdoor meeting

YOUR LOCAL / CHILD’S SCHOOL


1. Advocate for Physical Activity

Encourage your local school to prioritise physical education (PE) classes and ensure they provide a well-rounded curriculum that includes a variety of activities. Advocate for adequate time dedicated to PE each week and for qualified instructors who can motivate and engage students in physical activity.


Children running through grass

2. Support Active Breaktimes

Advocate for active recess and break times where children have the opportunity to move and play freely. Encourage schools to provide access to safe and stimulating outdoor spaces equipped with playground equipment, sports facilities, or open fields. Assist with fundraising initiatives if needed and time allows. Additionally, support initiatives that promote active play during breaks, such as structured games or sports clubs.


3. Integrate Movement into Learning

Encourage schools to incorporate movement into daily learning activities. This can include incorporating physical activity breaks between lessons, implementing active learning strategies (such as standing desks and flexible, ergonomic seating options) and integrating movement-based games and activities into the curriculum. By making movement an integral part of the learning experience, schools can enhance student engagement, focus and overall wellbeing.


Hope this helps. If you would like more assistance in addressing how your own workplace could better facilitate movement or other well-being practices, feel free to get in touch.



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