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Mental health awareness week 2024

Posted09.05.24

Mental health awareness week 2024

The theme of mental health awareness week 2024 is ‘movement: moving more for our mental health.’ One of the best things we can do to protect our mental health is regular movement. Even short bursts of brisk walking can impact our mood positively, increasing mental alertness and energy levels. Regular movement has been found to help reduce stress and anxiety and improve sleep. Many people impacted by homelessness have experienced past trauma, and report having mental health difficulties.

We spoke to our health and wellbeing team to find out about some of the benefits of regular movement. Through various initiatives, they’ve seen firsthand how movement can significantly improve well-being.

Walking sessions

Traditional therapy settings may not suit everyone. That’s why we offer walking therapy sessions for customers who find it challenging to sit in a therapy room or engage with conventional methods. Walking allows them to regulate and process their emotions, free from the constraints of a formal setting. When done in a group, these sessions also facilitate connections among people who may not have had the opportunity to interact otherwise. Even just 30 minutes of walking each week can make a significant difference. It provides fresh air, a chance to move your body, and a way to engage with others in a supportive environment.

Virtual reality

Using Virtual Reality to engage, stimulate and enhance movement can be hugely beneficial for wellbeing. It can lift moods and contribute to overall physical health and fitness. The dopamine-reward system is used to stimulate customers to move towards new and varied experiences.

For example, one customer, Tyrone*, struggles with chronic low moods punctuated by anxiety, frustration and anger. He has found an outlet in VR boxing to release frustration while engaging in challenging physical movement. What he loves most about VR is its ability to make movement fun and engaging. The immersive environment provides a setting that feels like stepping into a whole new world.

Sally* used to dread exercise sessions, which she described as feeling like ‘punishment’ until she tried one using VR.  The change in environment provided new motivation to move and explore, making the sessions so much more enjoyable. Through these sessions Sally had the opportunity to learn to love movement in this immersive space.

Singing

During singing workshops we focus on building people’s self-esteem. We combine vocal exercises with movement to help them connect with their bodies and voices. Through this approach, we’ve seen positive changes. When customers engage their body and voice together it improves their voice projection, sound quality, and confidence levels. Most importantly, singing and moving brings people joy.

Breathe and stretch

Breathe and stretch workshops offer a practical approach to addressing the effects of trauma and stress on the body. By exploring the three planes of body movement—left to right, front to back, and upper to lower— we aim to promote physical and emotional well-being. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, promoting feelings of well-being and alleviating stress. Many people impacted by homelessness have experienced complex trauma, which can manifest physically in the body. Like animals instinctively shake off stress after facing adversity, these stretching exercises encourage the release of that trauma and emotional tension.

Movement can take many forms, appealing to a wide range of interests and fitness levels. Mental health awareness week is a timely reminder that when you are homeless or struggling with mental health, physical movement has a valuable role to play in improving how you feel.

Find out about our health and wellbeing team here.

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