OPINION: Use town's natural spaces to tackle mental health

Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve.

Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Its Mental Health awareness week across the UK with this year’s theme being around getting back to nature.

So as your Lowestoft Mental Health Ambassador I thought I should raise awareness and encourage you all back into nature and our lovely countryside and sea front walks.

So, this week, or all weeks, why don’t you contact a friend or colleague and go for a walk together in one or great Parks or open spaces.

Lowestoft Journal columnist Phil Aves. Picture: Suffolk County Council

Lowestoft Journal columnist Phil Aves, from Lowestoft Rising. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Just chat about anything that is bothering either of you or just put the world to rights.

Whilst it is never easy to talk about one’s own mental well-being and often difficult to start the conversation with another it is vital we do.

If someone was visibly limping you would not hesitate to ask “What’s up?” and we should all get used to asking friends and colleagues how they are mentally and physically.

I saw an article this week where some GP’s are starting to ask each other how they are coping, because no one thinks about asking the people who have to ask us when things have got bad.

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Some of our schools ask the children their well being scores at start of day, so they know who is feeling low etc.

We start a lot of our meetings with an introduction that includes people giving their well-being score out of 10.

A simple concept that done regularly can normalise asking about well-being.

Manager and people in charge taking time to check on employees or volunteer’s well-being makes then better managers of people.

And taking that time out to check and perhaps help someone can bring huge rewards down the line.

Yes, it all take a little time, especially to organise a little walk in nature, but it can so help your own mental well-being and that of the person you take along with you.

This week is the official opening of the new visitors centre at Carlton Marshes, and if you have not been down there yet for a walk and a coffee, then get on with it.

It is so beautiful and peaceful all in one go and plenty of space to get away for a while.

We are so lucky here in Lowestoft, let use that natural space to help us.