Mental Health Awareness Week runs from Monday 14 to Sunday 20 May this year.

It always seems strange to me that we need to have an awareness campaign for an issue that affect 1 in 3 people in Scotland.

Every single person reading this will know someone, perhaps themselves, who suffers from a mental health issue. There are many routes into and out of mental illness and every person’s journey through that will be unique to them.

Everyone could benefit from spending some time to manage their mental well-being and a growing body of research is showing that one effective way to do that is to spend time out among nature.

Cumbernauld Living Landscape’s Wild Ways Well project offers sessions out in the parks and nature reserves of the town learning how we can improve our well-being and reduce our stress levels while engaging with some of the fantastic wildlife and wild spaces around the town.

Over the past few weeks the groups have had a go at a variety of activities. This included learning the names, uses and folklore of plants, trees and mushrooms; photography; wildlife film making; litter picking; fire skills; shelter building; outdoor cooking; and tracking mammals like badgers, deer and foxes.

There are lots of things you can do yourself to use nature to boost your mental well-being, even something as simple as going for a walk through a park or into one Cumbernauld’s nature reserves can have a huge effect on your mood and your day. You could also try taking a few minutes to sit quietly and listen to bird song, watch a bee forage, or take time to stop and smell some flowers.

If you’d like to go further and take part in a Wild Ways Well session then get in touch and find out how nature can help you.

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Paul Barclay