The power of nature: Mental Health Awareness Week

Every year the University runs a Mental Health Awareness week. The week forms part of the University's commitment to promoting good mental and physical health for all.

Wychfield. Photo by David Valinsky

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘Nature and the Environment’ so, we spoke to Samantha Hartley, Trinity Hall’s Head Gardener, about how the outdoors can help people, be it out in the wild places of the world or in green spaces set within the bustle of an urban setting.

Samantha said: “All over the world and increasingly in urban settings, the importance of green space to our physical health and mental wellbeing is understood.  

“The High Line, a garden built on a disused, elevated freight rail line which winds through the West side of Manhattan, is a dramatic example.

“It gives visitors an opportunity to take in the views and admire the green tapestry of a garden in an urban setting. I imagine that, even in the midst of the hustle and bustle of New York there is a sense of calm there.

“Many of us, during the difficulties we have all faced in the last year, have discovered the soothing effects of the great outdoors whether gardening in pyjamas in our own back yard, visiting public parks or taking our daily constitutional round the block.

“Some of us prefer wild places and others like to view nature from the safety of a good tarmac path.”

Samantha Hartley, Head Gardener
Samantha Hartley, Head Gardener. Photo by Kiloran Howard

Trinity Hall has many beautiful spots to work and relax in. From its gardens to its sports facilities.

Samantha added: “Of course if you want to get active, which is also great for your mental health, we have fantastic facilities at Wychfield for racquet sports, team sports or just a jog round the field.

“All around the gardens on all three sites there are benches and corners perfect for settling down to reflect or chat with friends.

“There is something new to see every day, especially now, as spring gets into full flow and new blooms emerge daily! We hope you enjoy the gardens come rain or shine and that they lift your spirits.”

The College mental health and wellbeing team are also busy this week and have given members of the College plenty of advice on how to enjoy the great outdoors.

They’ve set the College a seven day challenge to connect with nature. Today (Tuesday) they suggest interacting with what’s nearby or easiest to see, helping people to make a natural interaction part of their everyday routine. That can even be as simple as watching a nature programme on TV.

For more on the mental health team go to our pastoral support and wellbeing team pages.

The University dedicated webpage has full programme details. Some events require you to book in advance, and some are pre-recorded and can be accessed at any time from 10 May. Where possible, live sessions will be recorded and links will be posted on these webpages to be viewed at your convenience.


Note: the College remains closed to visitors so at the moment only resident students, staff and Fellows can enjoy the facilities. We look forward to welcoming visitors when restrictions ease.