Mental Health Awareness Week – using nature to nurture wellbeing

Anna Roughley, Head of Insight

As we progress through Mental Health Awareness Week, it’s great to see so many organisations and initiatives supporting the campaign and doing their bit to raise awareness of mental health. Each and every one of us has had a challenging year in different ways, one which we hope we will not experience again. For many, the pandemic and lockdown may have brought on mental health challenges and for some it will have exacerbated existing difficulties.

This year, the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week is nature and the positive effects that can come from taking time to connect with our surrounding environment – taking in the benefits that come from simply being around trees, flowers and nature. It’s probably not surprising that during the various lockdowns people turned to walking and other forms of exercise in nature to help them cope with the impacts of the pandemic. In fact, research from the Mental Health Foundation suggests that some 45% of people reported that being in green spaces had been vital for their mental health.

I have always loved being around trees and greenery generally, but the latter part of the pandemic has unlocked a new passion for nature that I hadn’t realised I had before. What I have learned is that getting out in the day as often as possible is a critical part of the success of my week and improves not only my physical wellbeing but also my mental wellbeing.

During the first lockdown, a colleague of mine began ‘commuting on foot to work’. What this actually meant was that she got up and ready for work, left the house and walked for about 45 minutes…straight back to her house. At the time, although I thought this was a great idea, for one reason or another I didn’t do it. Fast forward 12 months and each morning at approximately 6.30am, rain or shine, my son and I head out for a walk, picking up a coffee on the way so it really does feel like a commute. It really sets me up for the day and no two morning walks are the same. As the sun comes up the colours of the plants literally seem to explode, and there is something new each day to admire and appreciate. Spring has officially sprung here, both outdoors and in my step!

My only regret? Not ‘commuting on foot to work’ earlier. It didn’t feel like a priority this time last year and I thought I didn’t have the time to spare. I now realise that whilst I walk and absorb my surroundings, my mind is given time to wake up, decompress, prepare for the day and ultimately unlock my imagination. I am multi-tasking in a new way and almost creating time!

But there are ways you can connect with nature that doesn’t require carving a chunk out of your day (although I would recommend trying). Having a cup of tea and just looking out of the window for 15 minutes and really noticing what’s there or nurturing a house plant can provide a little break that gives a lot more back.

I perhaps didn’t understand the difference between being in nature and opening up and interacting with nature before, but I do now, and it really has had a positive impact on my wellbeing and how I approach my day.

This week at the LSB we are capturing and sharing our moments in nature to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week. As our team is spread across the UK, we want to share our countryside and activities with each other, but most importantly, continue to encourage our colleagues to take time out in the day to get some fresh air. This will help everyone feel refreshed and empowered to deliver the LSB’s mission – driving fair outcomes for customers of financial services. I feel really proud to work for an organisation which continues to put the wellbeing of their staff at the top of the agenda 365 days a year.

Throughout the last year, the LSB have put a lot of focus on supporting our registered firms to support their personal and business customers through the pandemic. From our Coronavirus insights series, to updating our personal Standards to ensure firms are promoting inclusivity and considering customers who may be vulnerable, we have produced a range of resources to help registered and non-registered firms identify and support customers struggling with their mental health and will continue to do so.

If you would like to access some of the thought pieces we have produced throughout the pandemic and understand ways you can better support your customers, I have provided a summary below.

Coronavirus insights series 1& 2

  • These two series considered the impact that the pandemic has had and could continue to have on vulnerable customers, including those with poor mental health, and how firms can support them through this difficult period and beyond.

Life after Lockdown and supporting case studies

  • Sharing case studies and key insights from the LSB’s work, this training provided considerations for registered firms dealing with potentially vulnerable customers during the pandemic.

Personal Standards updates

  • We recently launched the new Standards of Lending Practice for personal customers. The updates included a new Standard of Product and Service Design, to ensure firms consider the needs of those who may be at risk of exclusion or vulnerable across all channels, including digital.

Power of Prevention

  • APP scams can have a significant financial and emotional impact on customers. Whilst reimbursement is a vital part of the CRM Code, designed to provide protections for customers, prevention has a critical role to play. This blog explores the power of prevention in the fight against APP Scams and how we must all play our part to ensure consume protection.

World Mental Health Day: Raising awareness to raise standards

  • For World Mental Health Day 2020, we teamed up with four mental health charities to raise awareness of the impact of mental health on financial wellbeing.

To find out more about our Insights work from the last year, read our Year in Insights article that summarises in more details.

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