Inspire and DAERA connect with nature for Mental Health Awareness Week

10 May 2021

Inspire has partnered with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs to launch a new mindfulness podcast, encouraging people to look after their mental health by connecting with nature.

Inspire and DAERA connect with nature for Mental Health Awareness Week

During Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, Inspire Wellbeing has teamed up with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and its digital channel, MyNI, to launch a new series of mindfulness podcasts, which encourage the public to look after their mental health by connecting with nature. 

Take a Walk on the Mind Side is a guide to your own mindfulness walk in a country or forest park close to you. The podcast features an introduction from forest and park rangers, a guided walk with our lead mindfulness practitioner, Frank Liddy, and a beautiful new piece of music, specially created for Inspire. The podcasts cover seven destinations across Northern Ireland and, for anyone who doesn’t have access to a specific park or forest on the list, there is a general podcast version that can be used in any location.

Serving as a perfect walking companion for those seeking to explore the great outdoors during Mental Health Awareness Week – and beyond – the podcast is also ideal for people who want to bring the sights and sounds of nature into their own homes and practice mindfulness in the process.

Inspire Director of Mental Health and Addiction Services Alex Bunting said:

“Over the course of the last 13 months, with our usual activities and routines curbed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the natural world has become a refuge for many. Nature not only aids our physical wellbeing but it helps us to stay mentally healthy. Whatever you do, however you do it, connecting with nature will positively affect your wellbeing. The Take a Walk on the Mind Side podcasts and video are equally accessible to those living in rural areas, towns or cities. As days grow longer and the weather improves, we would invite everyone to experience as much of nature as they can and these podcasts are a perfect way to make the most of the great outdoors."

The Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots MLA, said:

“We are fortunate in Northern Ireland to enjoy some truly outstanding natural spaces such as our forest parks and country parks, and we know that over the past year people have hugely benefitted both physically and mentally from being able to get out into nature. I am proud that the spaces managed by DAERA are featuring in these vitally important mindfulness podcasts in support of Mental Health Awareness Week.

“We want everyone to benefit from nature and to look after and protect it. These of course are key messages that my department is promoting as part of the ‘Northern Ireland Climate Action’ campaign that DAERA and other government departments are getting behind this year. 

"Nature has so much to offer us and these podcasts are a fantastic opportunity to show that not only does the natural environment give us our food and water but that it also has priceless value as a place of hope, reflection and recovery for people. On the back of this, I also would like to reflect on the terrible recent scenes of the fire in the Mournes and remind the public to exercise caution and take their responsibilities as citizens seriously as well when they are out and about.”

DAERA’s digital MyNI channels will be sharing the podcasts, along with extra features on the locations presented in Inspire’s mindfulness podcasts.

For more information on Inspire’s Mental Health Awareness Week Campaign, visit www.inspirewellbeing.org/policy-campaigns/campaigns/take-a-walk-on-the-mind-side

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