Mental Health Awareness Week: move for your mental health

Mental Health Awareness Week is observed from 13th to 19th May 2024 in the UK and the theme for this year is movement – moving more for our mental health.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, we're being encouraged to move more for our mental healthThe Mental Health Foundation, which set the theme, says that movement is vital for our mental health and emotional wellbeing, but they acknowledge that many people struggle to be as active as they should be.

This is why they’re encouraging people to “find moments for movement in their daily routines” this Mental Health Awareness Week.

They explain:

“One of the most important things we can do to help protect our mental health is regular movement. Our bodies and our minds are connected. Looking after ourselves physically also helps us prevent problems with our mental health.

“Movement is a great way to enhance our wellbeing. Even a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk walking can boost our mood and increase our mental alertness and energy. Movement helps us feel better about our bodies and improve self-esteem. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety and help us to sleep better.”

Moments for movement could include going for a walk locally, putting on your favourite music and dancing around the house or even chair exercises while watching television.

Top tips for moving more this Mental Health Awareness Week

The Mental Health Foundation offers the following tips to help people get moving more for their mental health this Mental Health Awareness Week – and beyond:

  1. Find small moments for a bit of movement every day. In our busy, fast-paced lives we can often feel as though we just don’t have enough time for movement. And, sure, a lengthy gym session or long distance run isn’t always achievable, but finding short moments for movement throughout the day may be easier. The Mental Health Foundation provides examples such as marching or stretching while waiting for a kettle to boil, waiting for children to come out of school, or waiting for a bus to arrive. They say that these little moments – and the movement we do during them – can soon add up!
  2. Start increasing your movement with small steps this Mental Health Awareness WeekSet small, achievable goals. If getting active is new to you, set yourself small starting goals, such as walking to the end of your street. You can push yourself a little further each day. The Mental Health Foundation also suggests keeping a movement journal to help you track your progress and how the increased movement makes you feel. They say that “as you make progress you will create positive feelings that can boost your confidence and mood.”
  3. Take breaks from sitting. Many of us sit for long periods during the day and research shows us that this isn’t healthy. To combat this, set a timer to prompt you to take regular breaks to stand up, walk around and stretch.
  4. Find the fun. Choose activities for movement that you enjoy. If you find your daily movement fun, you will feel more motivated and reap greater psychological benefits.
  5. Connect with others. Try moving with others, as the social connections will boost mental health benefits. You could try making your regular catch-up with friends more active or find group activities in your local area to strengthen existing relationships and make new ones.
  6. Move in nature. If you can take your moment for movement outdoors, research suggests you will boost your mental wellbeing even further. Head to a local park, nature reserve or even just your garden to get active.
  7. Try something new. Trying out a new activity for movement can boost our wellbeing and confidence, while also creating opportunities to meet new people and have fun.
  8. Plan things to look forward to. Add moments for movement to your diary and make plans for fun activities you can do to get you moving. Having specific events to look forward to is good for mental health, giving a sense of hope and excitement for the future.
  9. Listen to the music that gets you moving. Turn up your favourite tunes to get you moving and make you feel good.

You can download these tips in infographic form from their website.

Mental Health Awareness Week: changing how we view movement

Try moving with friends this Mental Health Awareness WeekThe Mental Health Foundation also offers a more detailed guide about how to look after your mental health and wellbeing through exercise, which discusses topics such as body image, weight, anxiety and depression.

They say:

“We need to change how we view physical activity in the UK to not see it as something we ‘have to do’, ‘should do’ or ‘ought to do’ for our health. But as something that we do because we value its positive benefits to our wellbeing.”

During Mental Health Awareness Week, the Foundation are encouraging people to get involved with their campaign and help raise awareness by sharing their #MomentsForMovement on social media.

Once you’ve got moving, the Mental Health Foundation also has this advice to help safeguard your mental health and wellbeing:

  • Movement looks different for everyone, so don’t compare yourself to others. You don’t have to be super sporty and athletic to reap the mental health benefits of exercise, so don’t worry about keeping up with others; just focus on yourself, your own goals and your wellbeing. If you are new to exercise or have reduced mobility, start off slowly and doing what you feel comfortable with. Ultimately, be kind to yourself.
  • Be mindful about your movement. Try to take note of your movement and how it makes you feel mentally and physically. Notice your breathing, the sights and sounds around you and you may notice you feel more relaxed and less stressed.
  • Reframe movement as an act of self-care that will help you to feel good. Take advantage of times when you have to get up – such as to get something to eat or drink or use the toilet – and throw in some stretches or marching. You can find moments for movement at home and take small steps each day – don’t be hard on yourself.
  • Make sure you take time to rest. Prioritise rest time as well as movement and try to establish a regular, relaxing routine to help you unwind.
  • Celebrate your achievements. Acknowledge what you are doing to take care of your mind and body and reward yourself with something you enjoy, such as a nice bubble bath after a walk in the park. Recognising your progress and appreciating what you have achieved will help generate more positive thoughts and feelings, further boosting your mental health.

Show your support for Mental Health Awareness Week

Show your support for good mental health this Mental Health Awareness WeekThe Foundation provides posters and social media assets which can be downloaded for free from their website to help spread the word about moving more for our mental health.

Mental Health Awareness Week includes Wear It Green Day on Thursday 16th May, which will hopefully see schools, workplaces and communities donning their best green outfits and raising vital funds and awareness for mental health. The Mental Health Foundation provides dedicated resources for holding your own Wear It Green Day, which could include a quiz, cake sale or scavenger hunt, and also advises that events can be held on any day of the year if you are unable to take part on 16th May, or during Mental Health Awareness Week.

Individuals can also donate money or purchase a green ribbon pin to show their support for Mental Health Awareness Week and good mental health for all.

Learn more about mental health

Talk about mental health and how movement can impact it First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safetyfirst aidfire safety, manual handling, food safetymental healthhealth and social care and more.

An accredited Mindful Employer themselves, FRT’s specialist mental health training courses include Understanding Mental HealthMental Health Awareness in the WorkplaceManaging StressAnxiety and Phobias AwarenessSelf-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide qualified, approved trainers to deliver accredited Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training courses, including the Adult, Youth and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT says:

“Mental Health Awareness Week is a vital annual campaign which helps to raise awareness of common mental health problems and tools we can all use to support our mental health and wellbeing, like movement.

“It helps bring mental health to the forefront of conversations across the nation and helps us to focus on our mental health, how we are really doing and what support we might need.

“It’s really important that we all have an understanding of mental health problems and an awareness of common conditions such as anxiety, and that we are familiar with effective support strategies for helping others and managing our own mental wellbeing. Physical activity is a powerful tool that we can all wield when it comes to building resilience and improving our own mental health.

“Our mental health training provides learners with an understanding of mental health disorders, how they can be managed and treated, how to promote good mental health in ourselves and how to offer support to someone dealing with poor mental health.”

Helpful resources

brief summary of our mental health training can now be downloaded as an infographic.

We also have a number of free infographics available to download which provide simple tips for helping to manage your mental health and wellbeing. These include:

Every step counts for your mental and physical healthYou can also download our free Guide to Mental Health Training from our website.

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to

Further support for mental health concerns