Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

This week (May 10th to 16th 2021) is Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme for 2021 is ‘Nature’.

The two aims of the campaign are the encourage people to connect with nature in new ways and to convince decision-makers that access to and quality of nature is a mental health and social justice issue, as well as an environmental one.

    The theme is a fitting one given many of us have found solace in nature during lockdowns.

    The Mental Health Foundation's Chief Executive, Mark Rowland, talks about the reason for the theme including hearing a story of an elderly person who had lost all in-person contact following a fall.

    Research from the foundation found that 45% reported being in a green space was vital for our mental health. Visits to websites hosting webcams with footage of wildlife increased by over 2000%.

    The Foundation is asking people to take time this week to share their experiences of nature; take a photo, a video, or record an audio clip and share these with others using the hashtags; #ConnectWithNature #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.

    Making technology accessible to all

    When sharing these experiences online, it's vital to ensure they're accessible to everyone. There are some simple things you can do to ensure that your shared experiences are accessible.

    1. Use Alt Text for images

    When sharing photographs use Alt Text to describe the image. These are captions that describe the image you've uploaded. Screen readers will read out this Alt Text to people with visual impairments.

    2. Accessible social media

    Social media is a great platform for sharing experiences including those from the natural world. Find out more about How to do accessible social media in our FREE webinar recording. The web page includes Q&As from the session.

    3. Use Captions for video content

    For anyone sharing video, captions will help to make these accessible for people with hearing impairments. Auto captions are now included in Chrome and within the Zoom video-conferencing platform

    Individuals can find out how to enable auto-captions on an Android device in My Computer My Way.

    Providing support during Covid-19

    During Covid-19, AbilityNet has helped people stay connected to friends and family through support from our 300+ volunteers.

    We have helped deploy tablets and technology into the community including supporting disadvantaged children from the BAME community, and have helped deliver mental health support remotely.

    We've supported more people than ever in 2020, and as our impact report shows technology has helped reduce social isolation, improve confidence and more.

    As well as technology helping to support you with your mental health, it can help you to connect connecting with nature.

    Connections to nature through technology

    Google Lens (Android Only)

    Google lens logo; red yellow and green rounded corners on a square with a green dot in the bottom right hand corner and a central blue dotThis FREE app from Google uses your camera to help identify what you're looking at. The app uses artificial intelligence to identify text and objects from your camera's phone.

    While not specifically designed for identifying plants and animals it can do just that and so is a great way to get to know the natural world better. It’ll work with the live view as well as with any pictures you've taken.

    Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab

    Logo: A cartoon representation of a flying woodpeckerThis app will help you visually identify your Goldcrest from your Firecrest, your House Sparrow from your Tree Sparrow.


    Logo: bird with blue and grey feather sitting on a branchThis app looks complicated when you open it, but it's great fun. Essentially, if you hear a bird and wonder what it is, you hit record, then select the section of the recording you want to be analysed and the app will attempt to analyse it (it'll also tell you how confident it is with its answer). As you use the app, you’ll see how the birdsong appears as a pattern, so picking the bit to analyse becomes easier.

    Tree ID  

    Logo: two intertwined oak leavesCurious about your conifers? Then this free app from the Woodland Trust is the one for you.


    Logo: A sketched dragonfly over a target dot This app won’t help with identification, but if you already know your stuff, it enables you to get involved with the logging of species across the UK. It's a great way to share your knowledge with others.

    Creepie crawlies...

    There are some apps for identifying insects, but unfortunately, most are subscription apps or have hefty in-app purchases. Picture Insect is one (£20 per year), but unless you’re a budding entomologist Google lens is a better (free) starting point.


    Logo: three white forward slashes on a red backgroundOh, and as lockdowns lift and you explore further, don’t get lost!

    Where you are in the world, doesn’t always have an address and telling someone “I’m in the middle of a wood!” isn’t helpful. Winner of the AbilityNet Tech4Good BT Ingenious Award 2015, what3words is a simple, ingenius, idea for locating where you are.

    It divides the planet into 3m squares and assigns 3 words to each of those squares so whether you’re standing in the middle of Trafalgar Square ( or at the top of Scafell Pike (attends.untrained.booklet) you’ll be able to let someone know exactly where you are! 

    Support for Mental Health Issues

    If you feel you are struggling, you can talk to your GP or contact the NHS for help (999 or go to A&E in an emergency, 111 for less urgent help) there are also a number of charities where you can talk to someone:

    C.A.L.M. – Campaign Against Living Miserably – for men

    0800 58 58 58 or webchat


    116 123

    Papyrus – for people under 35

    0800 068 41 41 

    Text 07786 209697

    Childline – for children and young people under 19

    0800 1111 – free and the number will not show up on your phone bill