Mental Health Awareness Week

Organised by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place from 10 to 16 May.

Founded in 1949, the Mental Health Foundation is the UK’s leading charity for mental health.

Throughout the pandemic, millions of people across the UK have experienced a mental health problem. This week helps us to understand more about mental health, how it affects us, the different conditions and support available.


This year’s focus is on nature, as many of us have found the outdoors to be helpful in improving our wellbeing during the pandemic. 

Over the past year, we’ve seen an increase in people gardening, going on walks and exploring the outdoors – all of which have been essential for our mental health. 

Research from the Mental Health Foundation showed that going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies, with 45% of us reporting how being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health.

During lockdowns, people have not only spent more time in nature, but have learnt to appreciate and notice it more; highlighting a fundamental need to connect with our outdoor environment.


Bringing nature into your everyday life can have positive effects on your personal wellbeing. It can:

Getting involved 

Support the Mental Health Foundation by taking part in half an hour of outdoor exercise each day in May. This can include anything from walking, running, jogging and skipping – and remember to appreciate the nature surrounding you.

You are also encouraged to share your experiences by taking a photo or video and joining the discussion on how you’re connecting with nature by using the hashtags #ConnectWithNature #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.

To discover the best walks in the local Leeds area, have a read of these articles on Leeds List and Yorkshire Evening Post.

College activities

At Leeds Sixth Form College, we’ll also be celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week through a series of events. 

Our Academic Coach and MindMate Champion, Chris Flint, is running a Mental Health Self Help Google Classroom for staff and students from 10 May. These sessions will discuss mental health, how to find support, coping mechanisms and self help tips. Students can get involved in these sessions by using the Google Classroom code: Xllslsb.  

As part of the Virtual World of Work and Work Experience Week, the morning timetable for Wednesday 12 May has been dedicated to ‘Upskill Yourself’ activities. This is an opportunity for positive reflection, where students can build on their strengths and attributes. Examples of these sessions include managing stress and anxiety, motivational techniques, understanding your strengths and overcoming fear.

Students will also be campaigning this week as the student unions elections take place on campus. This will be a great opportunity for students to have their voice and bring about positive change.

We are raising money for Mind, the mental health charity, through a 24 hour gym session fundraiser. From 9am on Thursday 27 May to 9am on Friday 28 May, colleagues are invited to either pedal, cycle, cross-train or row in a 30 minute slot during the 24 hour period. The fundraiser will take place in the brand-new Eco-Powr gym, where the exercise machines are specially designed to generate power for our college. 

All sixth form tutorials will have a mental health awareness focus, based on this year’s theme of nature.

Leeds Sixth Form College achieves MindMate Friendly status

Leeds Sixth Form College is celebrating being the first post-16 provider in the city to be awarded MindMate Friendly status for its commitment to improving the wellbeing of students. 

To achieve MindMate Friendly status, the college completed an in-depth assessment, focusing on safe spaces, teacher training and tackling wellbeing concerns. 

The Health and Wellbeing Service Advisor at Leeds City Council who worked with the college, said: “There has clearly been a huge investment in pastoral and academic support, allowing students to reach their full potential. The college has demonstrated how their staff are committed to going above and beyond for students’ welfare and act as a strong pillar of support, resulting in an outstanding self-assessment.

“Leeds Sixth Form College achieved this status due to its outstanding contributions to support services for students and families across areas including leadership, policy development, curriculum, assessment and school ethos.

Rachael Booth, Principal of Leeds Sixth Form College, added: “Being the first post-16 provider in Leeds to be awarded MindMate Friendly status is a fantastic achievement. Each department makes an incredible effort to meet students’ pastoral needs, enabling them to build vital emotional resilience. 

“We understand the importance of supporting our young people and their families, especially during such a difficult period. We are currently planning a ‘green box’ initiative, which will see parents and carers receive a mental health support kit. This will include advice and research-based strategies, which aim to bring a better quality of life during emotionally charged periods, such as the lockdown or exams.”

The MindMate Friendly programme was launched as part of the Future In Mind: Leeds Strategy; a city-wide programme aiming to support young people’s emotional and mental health. The strategy involves working with schools and colleges to help them achieve Mindmate Friendly status, and then Mindmate Champion status. 

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for learning, skills and employment, commented: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our city’s young people is always our top priority. Never has it been so important to do everything we can to support young people, with the uncertainty and struggles they continue to face as a result of Covid-19.  

“Congratulations to Leeds Sixth Form College on the outstanding work they are doing to support students and their families, and for being the first post-16 provider in Leeds to achieve Mindmate Friendly status.”