The theme of this year’s Mental Health Week was ‘Nature’. Nature is so central to our psychological and emotional health, that it’s almost impossible to realise good mental health for all without a greater connection to the natural world. For most of human history, we lived as part of nature. It is only in the last five generations that so many of us have lived and worked in a context that is largely separated from nature. With this in mind, we asked staff and students to share their love of nature by taking a picture with a comment explaining the connection their wellbeing. Here is a selection of the contributions.

Ruth Chandler

I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Ghana in 1999, before coming to the UK in 2001. I then studied for a professional accountancy qualification with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), qualifying in 2008. In 2017, I graduated with an MSc from the University of London International Programmes.

I obtained my first accounting role in the UK in 2003, working with Waltham Forest College in a part-time role. I joined the Higher Education Sector in 2009, when I worked with the Institute of Education, University of London as a Project Accountant, and then the RVC in 2013. Before that, I worked with the Medical Research Council and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.

Vanessa Charlesworth

Taken at a local wood near Hitchin, called Hinchwood. These were taken while I met up with my brother-in-law, niece and nephew (who are 6 and 4 respectively) last Sunday.  I never knew this wood was just on my doorstop – the bluebells were amazing and it was so peaceful in there.  We were walking the trails through the woods for about 4 hours!!  The children had a great time using my phone as their personal camera – I think I only took one photo the whole day – they are budding David Attenborough’s, especially my nephew who likes all thinks to do with nature.

It was just a wonderful day for me – I live in a flat with no garden to just pop out to into when I need some time away from my computer (I have worked solidly from home since March 2020). I felt rejuvenated when I came home.   I shall be definitely going there again; to walk, soak up the fresh air and just clear the mind.

Lucy Eckersley

This lovely healthy fox is a regular visitor in the communal garden of our Camden flat, and this week he surprised us with a visit during my birthday picnic. Being able to see wildlife within moments of my door has been a real lifeline - for my mental health but also as a chronic pain sufferer, getting me out and about.

Lisa Harber

Wildlife, nature and photography keep me sane and are a wonderful way for calming and relieving stress! I love being outdoors, in the peace and quiet, just waiting to see what might be about on that particular day. Any spare time and holidays are spent outdoors on the lookout for new photographic opportunities. I chose the Bluebells and the Gosling photos as they were both taken this last week and show what is happening out in the countryside right now and thought it might encourage some more of you to get outside and look around.

Nicole Hay-Carter

Hmm… looking out of the window. At Hawkshead I love the big sky and cloudscapes- and this week at home I’m enjoying the blossom- especially as it’s beginning to fall in the wind.   A quick breather helps me to keep everything in proportion- it’s a wonderful world!

Ester Rodriguez Riley

This is a photo taken recently from Regent’s Park during Spring bloom. I choose this because it symbolises finding the nature and beauty in the middle of a busy city like London! I think natural beauty can be found where we look for it, like a potted plant in an office building, the shape of the clouds, flowers falling onto the street, a bird singing in the morning. It brings me lots of perspective when I take time to appreciate the calm of nature and remember that everything is okay and life goes on no matter what things are happening in our personal lives.

Rebecca Costello

The allotment has been a real sanctuary for me and the kids during lockdown. Although it’s hard work, time spent weeding, watering and planting really helps to clear the mind and it’s amazing just how fast time flies when you immerse yourself in it all. Plus you have a real sense of satisfaction eating something you know you’ve grown.

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