Dr Alex George is an A&E & TV doctor. He has been working in A&E as an emergency doctor throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and has become a well-known and respected figure amongst healthcare professionals in the UK, bringing the nation accessible and reassuring advice directly from the frontline.
Alex is on a mission to make mental health education compulsory in schools, and has become prolific throughout the UK in his campaigning with charities such as YoungMinds, Anna Freud Centre & Mind, witha goal to ensure mental health sits alongside the likes of Maths and English on the curriculum. Alex has now been appointed by the Prime Minister as Youth Mental Health Ambassador to the government.
Alex is a resident presenter on ITV’s Lorraine, has presented for Watchdog and also appeared on Celebrity Masterchef. Alex is also a fully qualified Level 3 PT.
Find out more about Dr Alex: Instagram @dralexgeorge Twitter @dralexgeorge TikTok @dralexgeorge YouTube: Dr Alex George
During long months of the pandemic, millions of us turned to nature. Our research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic showed going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health. Websites which showed footage from webcams of wildlife saw hits increase by over 2000%. Wider studies also found that during lockdowns, people not only spent more time in nature but were noticing it more.
It was as if we were re-discovering at our most fragile point our fundamental human need to connect with nature.
Nature and our mental health
Nature is so central to our psychological and emotional health, that it’s almost impossible to realise good mental health for all without a greater connection to the natural world. For most of human history, we lived as part of nature. It is only in the last five generations that so many of us have lived and worked in a context that is largely separated from nature. And it is only since a 1960s study in the US found that patients who were treated in hospitals with a view of nature recovered faster, that science has started to unpack the extraordinary health benefits.
During Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we will pull together the evidence that demonstrates the powerful benefits of nature for our mental health. We will look at nature’s unique ability to not only bring consolation in times of stress, but also increase our creativity, empathy and a sense of wonder. It turns out that it is not just being in nature but how we open ourselves up and interact with nature that counts. We will show that even small contacts with nature can reduce feelings of social isolation and be effective in protecting our mental health, and preventing distress.
Nature is our great untapped resource for a mentally healthy future.
Despite this, many of us are not accessing or benefitting from nature. Teenagers in particular appear to be less connected with nature and around 13% of UK households have no access to a garden. We want to challenge the disparities in who is and who isn’t able to experience nature. Nature is not a luxury. It is a resource that must be available for everyone to enjoy – as basic as having access to clean water or a safe roof over our heads. Local and national governments need to consider their role in making this a reality for everyone, and we will be talking about how they can do so during the week.
What are the goals for the week?
We have two clear aims. Firstly, to inspire more people to connect with nature in new ways, noticing the impact that this connection can have for their mental health. Secondly, to convince decision makers at all levels that access to and quality of nature is a mental health and social justice issue as well as an environmental one.
2021 is going be a huge year for nature: a new Environment Bill will go through the UK Parliament which will shape the natural world for generations to come; the UK will host the G7 nations where creating a greener future will be a key priority and a historic international UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) will be hosted in Glasgow in November.
There could not be a more important time to understand the links between nature and mental health.
What you can do
Stories are the best tools we have to influence change. Unless we can demonstrate nature’s role in bringing solace and joy to our lives, it will remain under-valued and under-utilised.
We want to hear your stories of how nature has supported your mental health. This might be as a simple as tending to a house plant, listening to the birds, touching the bark of trees, smelling flowers or writing a poem about our favourite nature spot.
Whatever it is for you, we invite you to #ConnectWithNature and share what this means for you.
During Mental Health Awareness Week, we are asking you to do three things:
Experience nature: take time to recognise and grow your connection with nature during the week. Take a moment to notice and celebrate nature in your daily life. You might be surprised by what you notice!
Share nature: Take a photo, video or sound recording and share the connections you’ve made during the week, to inspire others. Join the discussion on how you’re connecting with nature by using the hashtags #ConnectWithNature #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
Talk about nature: use our tips, school packs, research and policy guides to discuss in your family, school, workplace and community how you can help encourage people to find new ways to connect with nature in your local environment.
For more information about this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week visit mentalhealth.org.uk/mhaw or join the conversation on social media using #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
I have given much thought about whether to post publically about my anxiety, not something a fiftysomething is overly keen to chat about! This graphic below is one of the best examples of showing what anxiety looks and feels like. You don’t necessarily have all of these feelings and emotions, as everyone gets anxious at times. The difference for me and many others is that we can’t stop thinking about scenarios in our heads, worrying about what people will think and say about what we will say and do.
‘Second guessing’ is one of my personal habits that is annoying to me, yet I find it very difficult not to. I am more than often trying to say or do what the person I am interacting with hopes I will say or do. It gets very tiring mentally and you never really switch off. However, four things have helped me greatly…my loving wife & family who understand my anxiety; music as it helps distract and focus my mind away from running through endless scenarios and worries; Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) techniques to help when I for example feel a panic attack coming on; and finally nature and the great outdoors.
The latter I enjoy simply by walks, observing the changing wildlife and flora or just by pottering about in the garden. Even in a city you can seek out nature, be it by a walk around a nearby park, looking out for bird life and wildlife near to you, looking at any trees local to you – tree hugging optional 😉 You can reach out to people and the biggest step is asking for some help or even recognising you need to tackle your mental health.
One of the last great taboos in our society is mental health and it doesn’t have to be. Join in this year’s Mental Health Awareness week and find out more here
The second episode from We Are Listening, ‘Expression of Music’ is Studio Moross’ interpretation of music therapy through typography and graphic design. They have taken core beliefs used by Nordoff Robbins music therapists such as ‘We Are Listening’, ‘Faith in Music’ and ‘Music for Good’.Click here to see episode two of We Are Listening
Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Summer School 2021
For a second year running, our international summer school for music therapists will be held online between 19 – 22 July 2021. It includes workshops in musical techniques, sharing music therapy work and seminars discussing music therapy.Click here to find out more about our Summer School
SSE charity raffle for Nordoff Robbins
SSE are running a charity raffle with all proceeds going to Nordoff Robbins. There are some brilliant prizes up for grabs, including VIP packages to the likes of Blondie, Queen and Adam Lambert, Kaiser Chiefs, a signed Tom Walker guitar and a Roger Waters soundwaves art, plus much more. And tickets are just £5 each.Click here to buy a ticket at the SSE charity raffle
The BRIT Awards 2021
The BRIT Awards 2021 will be one of the first major indoor music events to celebrate the return to live music, with a special audience of invited key workers. It will take place on 11 May at The O2 arena in London, and to be broadcast live on ITV.Click here to read more about the BRIT Awards 2021
Musical resources for your home
We want to add musical value to your life, which is why we’ve created a suite of musical resources for you, your family or friends which are inclusive and accessible to all. If you’d like to learn an instrument we also have our Accessible Music Learning available. Learn about our musical resourcesAs a charity we receive no government funding, so we rely on the generosity and support of people like you, our supporters. Here are a few ways you can help Nordoff Robbins and the people we help.
Despite timely and important books like this one, mental health is still a taboo in many football clubs as the author himself discovered when trying to interview players for his book.
Containing insightful and at times entertaining (football fanatic and bestselling crime writer Val McDernaid gives a wonderfully entertaining interview), the book is a must read for any football fan and anyone interested in mental health and well being ie all of us hopefully.
Plenty of footballers past and present open up and give their personal experiences including Chris Kirkland, Sam Hutchinson and the Secret Footballer.
The final part of the book gives some useful, practical tips on improving your mental health, many tieing in with attending football as a supporter.
Timely and easily accessible this book goes a long way to opening up the discussions on mental health and general well-being in football, from both the players and fans perspectives.
Local author Mr Stay has asked me to pass on his sincere thanks to all who came to his online launch party for his new book The Crow Folk last night. He is currently slumbering on a desk near the radiators in the Reference section, muttering something about Caimh McDonnell’s scarecrow hair haunting his dreams.For those who could not attend, or simply wish to enjoy the whole thing once more, you can do so here…
Be warned: They start singing at around 55 minutes in…
The Thank Yous…Mr Stay should also like to pass on his sincere thanks to Caimh McDonnell for compering magnificently, to Ian W Sainsbury for the joyful sing-a-long-a-pub-knees-up at the end, to Emily and Kai for tech support, Dominic King for bringing us to the world via the BBC, to Sara Cox for her sage advice in the run-up to launch, to Claire for her lovely veg, and to George for once more reprising the role of Pumpkinhead.
Book/choc giveaway and FREE short stories…We are giving away signed books and chocolate. As a subscriber to this newsletter you are automatically entered into a draw to win one of five signed/dedicated copies of The Crow Folk and a special branded bar of chocolate…
The second big announcement is that Mr Stay will be launching a quartet of short stories featuring the mysterious Miss Charlotte. Starting in March and released monthly, these stories will be exclusive and FREE to all subscribers of this newsletter. More details will soon be forthcoming!
Although we may be kept apart, we can still stay socially connected. This month we’re helping people to focus on their relationships. So let’s stay in touch, show friendship and be kind in these challenging times.
Our Friendly February calendar is full of ideas to help you stay connected (online if needed). It really makes a difference when we take time to listen or find ways to make someone’s day better. So please share the calendar.
You can also use our app to receive the daily calendar actions and join a supportive community putting these into practice.
Happiness coaching for challenging times
As Covid continues to restrict our lives, we all need to take good care of our mental wellbeing. One great way to do this is using our free 10-day happiness coaching program for challenging times.
Let’s choose being kind over being right in difficult situations this month. By showing friendship and understanding to others, we can spread tolerance and help ourselves and others to feel more supported.