The 9th-15th of May marked Mental Health Awareness Week across the UK.  

This year's theme was ‘loneliness’ – a key driver for poor mental health, affecting millions of people in the UK every year.   

The past few years have been an especially difficult time with research highlighting the impact the global pandemic has had on mental health. 

Loneliness has been a major factor in contributing to higher levels of distress resulting from people’s sense of isolation and reduced ability to connect with others.  Polling conducted by the Mental Health Foundation also found that loneliness was one of the leading issues that the public felt needed to be addressed. 

Therefore, as restrictions began to ease in Scotland, our health and wellbeing champions thought it would be a great opportunity for us all to dedicate time ‘reconnecting with colleagues.’  Throughout the week, due to relaxing COVID restrictions, we were able to go into offices and safely meet in larger groups.

Read about some of the ways we got involved below! 

In the Scottish Borders Ian, Andrew and Kim joined forces to complete a 5km Parkrun together. Exercise can really help to improve your mental health. Doing something as simple as going for a walk outside can give you an enormous sense of wellbeing, improve your mood, sleep cycle and relieve stress.  

Ian, Andrew and Kim felt great after completing their run and all said they would like to do it more often. 

Our Shared Lives team in the Scottish Borders also engaged in some cold-water therapy. Derek and Kim braved the water at Lindean to have a twenty-minute cold-water swim in the beautiful loch.  

They had a cuppa to warm themselves up afterwards then jumped into the kayak for a relaxing paddle around the loch.   

Kim partakes in cold water swimming regularly, finding it a real stress reliever. Immersing the body in cold water is proven to boost dopamine levels and increase the release of endorphins. 

In Moray to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week, some of our colleagues, people we support, their families and pets enjoyed a walk around Cooper Park before stopping for a picnic and cake! 

In the Glasgow office, Eleanor and Chris organized a pizza party catch-up with colleagues, most of whom had only just started coming back to the office after lockdown. It was a lovely, relaxed way to reconnect and meet face-to-face after operating predominantly online. 

Similarly, West Dunbartonshire held a coffee morning that was open to all colleagues. Anyone who popped into the office on the day took some time away from their desks and came together for some tea and cake and chatted for a while.  

Pauline, one of our Mental Health Champions also did some cold-water therapy every morning and evening for the week. Some colleagues went with her to brave the cold and joined Pauline in the freezing waters of Loch Lomond.  

Overall, it was a great week that really helped us all to focus on the importance of good mental health. By arranging some social opportunities, we helped our colleagues to reconnect and feel less isolated, as well as have some healthy, open conversations about mental health. 

Debbie, one of our Health and Wellbeing Champions, commented; “It was great to see so many examples of colleagues getting together to mark the week. It has been especially brilliant to hear from many colleagues who took part that said the campaign has inspired them to repeat the activity again throughout the year. 

Check out more photos from the week on our Facebook!