Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

Happy family, to mark Mental Health Awareness week

Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 UK 

This content mentions anxiety and mental health which some people may find triggering.

Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event that bring people together to highlight the importance of positive mental health that runs from the 13th to 17th May. 

With the current levels of stress for people across the UK higher than ever this year's theme looks at moving more to support our mental health. 

The benefits of physical activity on mental health

Multiple studies have shown that there are clear links between regular exercise and mental health. Continued exercise reduces depression by up to 30%, and is a helpful way to burn off nervous anxiety too- it's been found to be as effect as taking medication. 

Activities to improve mental health

All physical activity is good activity when it comes to your wellbeing, you've just got to find what suits you and can be built into your daily life. 

If you're keen on getting sweaty, try going for an evening run, or joining a workout class. If you have a bike, try and go for a ride regularly. Yoga is great for slowing down and releasing muscle tension, and walking is a calm, quiet activity (plus you can take your dog). Any way you choose to move your body will offer benefits of physical activity on your mental health.

Nature and mental health

You'll score extra wellbeing points if you complete your physical activity outdoors. The links between being in nature and mental health are well documented. You don't have to travel far, either. Even a walk around your neighbourhood will do- take in the trees, the birds singing, and the noises around you. Noticing the little things helps ground your mind in the present moment. 

If you don't have the time for a walk, try taking the kids to play ball in the park, or for a trudge through the woods. Trips to the beach or nature reserves also offer the opportunity to breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the open water and landscape, and get some exercise.

Spurgeons - Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2024, we will be providing a live text chat feature to answer questions for parents around their child's mental health. You can join the conversation at Ask a Counsellor.

Here at Spurgeons Charity, we understand that parenting can, at times, be challenging. That is why we also have a range of free mental health resources available for you to download. 

Take a moment to watch along with our box breathing animation and repeat as many as necessary to bring a sense of calm. Or, explore how to create a self-soothe box with your child, so you can feel more prepared when things become difficult.

Child receiving counselling - mental health awareness

Mental Health for Parents – Caring for your own Wellbeing 

Being a parent often means busy days, and it can be difficult to find little moments for yourself that offer a chance to decompress. Let’s take a look at some of the things you can do to maintain wellbeing, and positive parental mental health.  

1) A great way to start the day, before getting the kids up and ready for school, is to engage in some relaxation techniques like meditation and breathing exercises. You could even incorporate some exercise into your morning routine if time allows. Why not go for a jog around the park, get out in nature or try a yoga session in the evening after putting the kids to bed.  

2) Sleep is important when it comes to protecting our wellbeing and parental mental health. It can at times be tempting to stay up a little later to finish an episode of your favourite TV show, but to combat anxiety symptoms, the body needs lots of rest.

You could always substitute a late night watching TV on the sofa for an early night and a good bedtime read.  Being on our phones right before bed, drinking alcohol or consuming sugary treats could all contribute to a poor night’s sleep, so try to get into good habits in the evening if you can.

3) Make sure you are eating well.  This can be difficult when money is tight, but nutrition is another key factor in maintaining our physical and mental health. When you’re feeling tired and overwhelmed, it can be easier to resort to comfort foods, but giving your body the nutrients it needs as part of a healthy balanced diet can also help to keep anxiety at bay.  Also, when reaching for unhealthy snacks, ask yourself if you are really hungry, or are you bored, sad, or something else?  We often use food to suppress our feelings rather than acknowledging them. 

Children working on a well-being activity in pairs.

4) Make time for yourself. Although being a parent often means there is lots to do each day, it’s important that you carve out some time for you.  Would it really be the end of the world if that ironing didn’t get done? Perhaps try something new like an enjoyable hobby, socialise and meet up with friends, or try a new recipe in the kitchen.

Activities like this, can provide a much-needed boost to our mood, and help to off-set stressful periods where everything seems difficult.  Try not to feel guilty about me-time.  You deserve to be happy, and you are role modelling good self-care to your children too, which is important for their wellbeing. 

5) Writing down your thoughts can help you recognise what’s upsetting you. Sometimes just getting it out on paper can help you un-muddle the mind and get in touch with your emotions and feelings by journaling. Writing out what you’re anxious or stressed about every day can help clear the mind, enabling you to feel calmer.  

6) Spend time in nature. In Japan, ‘forest bathing’ is a practice that helps remove stress and depression. All you need to do is go for a walk somewhere beautiful, perhaps in local woodland, and take in the sounds and sights around you- the birds in the trees, the ferns on the forest floor, and the peace and quiet. This is a great way to practice mindfulness and carve out some more calm in your life.   

Anxiety in Parents – Mental Health Awareness Week

Here at Spurgeons, we understand that parenting with anxiety can be challenging. That is why we wanted to bring the voices of parenting bloggers from around the UK together to share their tips and tricks for Mental Health Awareness Week.

Here you will find advice and guidance on how to manage parenting with anxiety and maintain positive parental mental health and wellbeing.  

Debbie is an experienced counsellor and advocate for children and adult’s mental health.

Advice for new parents 

“Take one day at a time. Sleep when the baby sleeps and take walks with the pram. Fresh air will be good for you and the baby and is a great way to de-stress. Accept help when it is offered from friends and family members.”

Other tips and strategies from Debbie

“Listen to music, do a relaxing meditation, have a massage, read a book or magazine, have a bath, watch a film, meet with friends or family or pursue an interest or hobby. By taking this time out for a few minutes gives you some space and time away from your normal routines and helps you relax. Try to eat well-balanced meals, try not to skip meals and always keep some healthy snacks with you.” 

Nicola – Parenting Lead for Spurgeons

“Parenting is the hardest job in the world – if you suffer from anxiety, it can be that much harder.”

Be kind to yourself

“Think about what you need for you and take time out to do something that relaxes you. Practice some coping strategies such as breathing techniques, meditation, exercise etc and find out what works for you. Speak to your doctor to see what services they offer to help in your area.”

Try not to do too much

“If you become overwhelmed your anxiety is likely to be worse – don’t answer every request straight away. Say you will think about it and give yourself time to consider your reply. Consider if it is something that you can realistically manage at the moment. If not, it is ok to say no. Set boundaries for what you can do and when and stick to them.”

Work on problem solving

What are you anxious about? What can you put in place to reduce some of the anxiety?
  • you ask your children to text you to say they are ok when they have arrived somewhere, to tell you when they are on their way home, to tell you if they go somewhere different than planned.
  • you look up ways to keep them safe online.
  • they wear bright coloured clothes that you can easily spot when you are out and that you choose a spot to meet if you are split up.
  • you have a code word that means – come and get me if they feel unsafe
  • you do a parenting course so that you feel confident in your parenting techniques so that you don’t feel judged by others
  • you avoid situations that trigger you and ask other people to help
Preparation is the best way to deal with your anxiety and safe plans put into place relieves some of the worry.

Find your Passions and What Makes you Happy 

Lynn at Positive Young Minds:

“Mental health is easier to navigate when you have things to look forward to. I meet a lot of people who have not yet found their passion and therefore, it can be extra challenging when they are not feeling themselves, as they have fewer options to help themselves feel better.

I would encourage everyone to find a hobby if they don’t have one or to rekindle their hobby if it has lapsed. We all have extremely busy lives and time to become absorbed in something we love is a great de-stressor. So whether it’s crochet, hillwalking or gardening, carve some time out of your days and weeks to dedicate to activities which will make you happier. ”

Finding Acceptance

Sabina at Mummy Matters: 

“Acknowledging our struggles and recognizing that there will always be things that exist outside our control is a courageous step on the path towards regaining balance and mental health. Mental health challenges can appear in various forms, but understanding why they exist can help us make positive progress on our path toward healthier living.” 

What if I can’t cope? 

There is never a need to face anxiety alone. If you feel as though you are struggling to cope, contact your GP in the first instance. Be transparent and honest about how you feel so that they can decide a suitable course of action for you. They may offer a prescription for an anti-depressant or other drug that can help and may put you in touch with a local counselling service who can provide further support.  

Our Services 

Here at Spurgeons, we deliver a range of services for children, young people and families around the UK.  

Our team at Spurgeons strives to provide support for as many families and parents as possible, and offers flexible, needs-led, solution-focused programmes that are designed to support and mentor parents in managing family life and relationships.  

All our parent support workers and volunteers are trained and able to work one-to-one with families or as a larger group.  

Spurgeons Family Support 

Further help and information 

The Samaritans 



Related articles from Spurgeons

View all
Making your Mental Health a Priority
Two pairs of hands gently holding a heart to symbolise the importance of prioritising mental health
Making your Mental Health a Priority
How to Help a Friend
Two young women have their arms wrapped around each other and are sharing experiences, to help ease stress and anxiety
How to Help a Friend
Trauma, the Brain and Recovery
A child staring into the distance and possibly recovering from trauma
Trauma, the Brain and Recovery