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Mental Health Week 2021: Nature & the Environment

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  • mental health and wellbeing in schools
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  • Topical Teaching
  • nature and the environment

It’s mental health week and this year’s theme is nature and the environment. Mark Rowland, the chief executive of the mental health foundation, said that the theme was chosen due to nature’s ‘unique ability to not only bring consolation in times of stress, but also increase our creativity, empathy and a sense of wonder.’ Amazing! Now sounds like the perfect time to bring some of the healing and inspirational power of nature into the classroom.

Are students currently experiencing a ‘disconnect’ from nature?

Lots of students up and down the country may have experienced a disconnect from nature this year. A number of factors could have contributed to this – Much more time spent indoors and less opportunity to travel far from home due to the pandemic for a start. This will undoubtedly have had a negative effect on the mental health and wellbeing of our students.

The mental health foundation discovered that going for walks was the nation’s top coping strategy. The truth is, many of us have turned to local nature as a source of comfort this year… The sounds of birds chirping in our local park; a majestic previously unnoticed oak tree a few blocks from home; the changing of the seasons watched through our windows…

Nevertheless, nature is a little harder to appreciate when you’re 12. When you haven’t seen your friends for months and aren’t allowed to leave the house by yourself. That’s why it’s vital that we foster this appreciation of nature and the environment through education. Learning to appreciate your local environment is necessary for students to live happily and contribute positively to society. So, how can we support them with this from the confines of the classroom?

Explore Prospero’s compilation of themed teaching resources below:

Mental Health Week – Nature & the Environment Teaching Resources:

 

  • Twinkl have created a wealth of education packs on nature and environment theme. They also have many resources on mindfulness for mental health.
  • This series of videos provided by the mental health foundation features people talking about how their connection with nature has supported their mental wellbeing. This resource is an excellent discussion point. It could be a stimulus for students writing about connecting with nature in their own local area.
  • Topically, there’s lots going on around the world to bring into lessons this year: a new Environment Bill will go through the UK Parliament, the UK is hosting the summit of the G7 nations with building a ‘greener future’ being a key priority.
  • You could host your own classroom summit, debating key environmental issues and deciding on improvements to make in school or at home.
  • The Red Cross has a variety of resource packs tackling issues such as loneliness, managing stress and getting ‘back to better’.
  • ‘SCARF’ schools provide advice on taking notice, being active, getting creative and connecting with others as part of mental health awareness.
  • ‘Mentally Healthy Schools’ have a brilliant mental health toolkit for both primary and secondary students.
  • The BBC also has a variety of clips to help facilitate discussion around mental health for both primary and secondary levels.
  • Stormbreak has some excellent short video activities which aim to develop self-care, resiliance, hope and optimism in young people.

 

We hope you find these mental health week-themed resources useful. We welcome you to get in touch if you have any thoughts or success stories on bringing nature and the environment into the classroom.

For some self-care advice check out our recent blog on avoiding teacher burnout.

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