Helping your mental health and your happiness

This photograph was taken yesterday morning at St Albans parkrun where a record number of participants walked, jogged and ran the 5k route, supported by a group of volunteers. What has that got to do with mental health and happiness you may ask? Well read on and it should become clearer.

Too often, people feel afraid to admit that they are struggling with their mental health. This fear of prejudice and judgement stops people from getting help and can destroy families and end lives.

There has been huge progress made to tackle stigma surrounding mental health in recent decades, but it still remains a key issue driven by negative associations, experience and language.

This text appeared on the Heads Together website, providing background to the campaign that was spearheaded by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to end stigma around mental health.

Heads Together was the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon Charity of the Year. Billed as the World’s First Mental Health Marathon, it did much to raise awareness of the need to address stigma associated with mental health.

During Mental Health Awareness Week 2017, I have been fortunate enough to attend a number of events and hear from people across sport, entertainment, charity and business sectors speaking very openly about their own mental health challenges and experiences in an effort to help others. What was reinforced to me time and time again is that success in your chosen field does not bring mental health immunity.

As we come to the end of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017, more people are talking openly about their own mental health and it is so important that we keep this dialogue going so we can continue to address the stigma. We all have both mental and physical health and should be able to discuss either without fear of prejudice.

Talking however is only one way of helping ourselves and others deal with mental health. More and more we are learning that the relationship between our physical and mental health is inextricably linked. In 2008, 5 Ways to Wellbeing were developed by NEF as  part of the Foresight Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing.

Action for Happiness have based their GREAT” daily activities on these 5 Ways to Wellbeing in their 10 Keys to Happier Living, shown in their diagram below.


As you prepare for the working week ahead, why not have a think about how you could integrate these activities into your daily life if they are not already part of it. Small actions can have a hugely positive impact both on you and others, mentally and physically.

That takes me back to why I like this photograph of St Albans parkrun yesterday so much. For me, it embodies every aspect of GREAT.