Exploring the great outdoors, from parks to pathways can help mental health

The countryside has been a lifeline for people right across Shropshire during the coronavirus pandemic, offering a safe, clean space to get some fresh air and exercise.

BORDER COPYRIGHT SHROPSHIRE STAR JAMIE RICKETTS 02/03/2021 - The Cliffe, which is next to Nesscliffe Hill, could be named a nature reserve, work will be underway to start restoring the heather there to help the birds and wildlife..
BORDER COPYRIGHT SHROPSHIRE STAR JAMIE RICKETTS 02/03/2021 - The Cliffe, which is next to Nesscliffe Hill, could be named a nature reserve, work will be underway to start restoring the heather there to help the birds and wildlife..

Shropshire Council says that during mental health week it is keen to point people to the nature that is around them.

The theme for Mental Health Week this year is nature.

Rachel Robinson, Shropshire Council’s director of public health, said visiting natural places – green spaces like parks, gardens or forests – or blue spaces like the beach, rivers and wetlands can help you reduce people's risk of mental health problems, lift the mood and help people feel better about things. If it feels daunting to get outside, try going with a friend or relative, or picking somewhere familiar she said.

"Shropshire has many special landscapes including the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Stiperstones and Corndon Hill Country crossing the border in the south west of the county and the internationally important Meres and Mosses in the north. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal World Heritage Site also includes part of Shropshire around Chirk in the north.

"There are also many promoted routes for walking, cycling and riding across the county, from The Shropshire Way to Walking with Offa," she said.

“The past year has been hard on everyone and has had a significant impact on many people’s health and wellbeing. Lockdown restrictions starting to ease will allow us to get back to the people and things we love, but some may be feeling worried about going ‘back to normal’ and how to manage these changes.

“Mental Health Awareness Week is a great time to start taking care of your mental wellbeing, especially during this period of uncertainty. This year’s theme is ‘Nature’ and during the time when so much was closed, our country parks, heritage sites and public rights of way remained open, offering many of us, a lifeline and a place to exercise, recharge and support our mental health and wellbeing.”

You can discover sites and walks across the county by visiting the Shropshire’s Great Outdoors website.

Information, advice and support is available on the council's mental health webpages and on the Better Health every mind matters and Mental Health Week Awareness websites.

For more information about this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week visit mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week or join the conversation on social media using #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.

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