Mental Health Awareness Week, led by the Mental Health Foundation, starts today and we are excited to share a programme of events that links to the theme of nature, encouraging you all to #ConnectWithNature for your mental health.

Mark Rowland, Chief Executive at the Mental Health Foundation said: 

"During long months of the pandemic, millions of us turned to nature. Our research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic showed going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health. Websites which showed footage from webcams of wildlife saw hits increase by over 2000%. Wider studies also found that during lockdowns, people not only spent more time in nature but were noticing it more.


"It was as if we were re-discovering at our most fragile point our fundamental human need to connect with nature."

Connecting with art and nature is something that we can do for our wellbeing, and we would love to hear your stories of how art and nature supports your mental health. Please send us images or words about how you make art and nature your normality using the hasthtags #ConnectWithNature and #SMHAF21.

Because we can’t be together in venues this year, we are pleased to have some of our events taking place outdoors across Scotland, encouraging you to get outside, connect with art and nature, and share your experience with others.

Our programme this week brings inspiring stories about how nature can prevent mental health problems and support recovery, meditations on how our increasingly limited access to the natural world can create challenges in maintaining positive mental health, and plenty of activities to inspire you to get creative in nature. 

There is something for everyone this week, from watching our selection of short films which explore the relationship between nature, mental health and wellbeing; learning about photography at the beautiful Merkinch Nature Reserve; forest bathing and photography at Pollock Park; experiencing the small wonders in our environment with Sketch and Wander in Edinburgh; or joining one of our online workshops exploring nature and mental health.

See our full nature listings below:

Short Films: Nature, Mon 10th - Sun 16th May, online
A selection of short films which explore the relationship between nature, mental health and wellbeing.

Outdoor Art at Porty, Mon 10th May, Portobello Beach, Edinburgh
Get creative at Portobello beach, joining The Alma Project in drawing using natural materials.

Nature Stories for Wellbeing, Mon 10th May, online
Traditional Scottish stories and wonder tales to connect with nature, nourish wellbeing and fire imagination with Jane Mather.

Nature to Nurture, Mon 10th – Sun 16th May, Costorphine Community Centre, Edinburgh
A nature themed art installation window display from participants from Costorphine Community Centre.

Creative Café from Your Couch: Nature & Normality, Tue 11th - Thu 13th May, online
A three-day online festival exploring the themes of nature and normality.

Wellbeing of the Woods, Tue 11th May, Pollock Park, Glasgow, Exhibition - Fri 14th May, Lochwinnoch
An Open Aye guided woodland photo walk, using the principles of Shinrin Yoku, or Forest Bathing. 

Creative Writing for Wellbeing, Wed 12th May, online
A creative writing workshop to try out a variety of approaches to writing about nature.

Creative Nature for Wellbeing, Wed 12th May, online
Workshops exploring the connection between our mental health and our relationship with nature.

Embodying Nature, Fri 14th May, Balerno, Edinburgh
A creative and relaxing afternoon in the woodland of Balerno. With Creativeflow Arts and the Planetary Healing Centre.

Folding Into Nature, Sat 15th May, online
An interactive origami workshop where you will learn how Japanese culture approaches health and wellbeing through interaction with nature.

Nature Walks, Sat 15th May, Merkinch Nature Reserve, Inverness
Enjoy the beautiful Merkinch Nature Reserve with experienced guides for an hour-long walk.

Sketch & Wander for Wellbeing, Sat 15th May, Musselburgh, Edinburgh
A group walking and sketching workshop to help you experience the small wonders in our environment, guided by artist Lynn Fraser from Fantoosh Sketching.

Dawn Chorus, Sun 16th May, Merkinch Nature Reserve, Inverness
Tune in with to the waking chorus of birds at the Merkinch Nature Reserve.

And we will continue to explore Nature next week with:

'Normal?' Conversations: What is the climate crisis doing to our mental health?, Tue 18th May, online
SMHAF’s Andrew Eaton-Lewis brings together three fascinating people with different insights into the mental health impact of climate change, Katy Dye, Fadzai Mwakutuya and Dr Gary Belkin.

Sketch & Wander (From Your Sofa), Thu 20th May, online
A unique online sketching experience where we bring the outdoors inside.

Making Nature the New Normal, Thu 20th May, Isle of Skye, Highlands
Rag Tag and Textile will be opening its new garden to the public and sharing students’ artwork in a small exhibition in in its adjoining workspace, Little Tag.

An graphic for mental health awareness week that shows nature.

Image by Becky Duncan, Wellbeing Of the Woods project.