Research Outreach Blog
May 9, 2022

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

The 10th–15th of May is Mental Health Awareness Week , an event which focuses on improving people’s mental wellbeing across the UK. This year’s theme is ‘loneliness’, something that has affected many of us at some point during our lives, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mental Health Foundation have found that an increasing number of people are experiencing feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can lead to harmful consequences. We can all help fight loneliness by getting back in touch with a long-lost friend, or by visiting a neighbour you haven’t spoken to in a while. Below, we have collated a series of articles which explore the topic of mental health and highlight its impact in our society.

Exploring mental benefits of the natural environment
Natural environments affect behavioural and neural processes, facilitating increased positive emotions and creativity, and reducing stress and impulsive decision-making. Kerry Jordan of Utah State University explores this domain, focusing on impulsive decision-making. With limited neurological literature on mental benefits of natural environments, she recently employed event-related potentials and attention restoration theory in an electrophysiological exploration of implicit decision-making when viewing natural versus built environments. Understanding neural and behavioural changes instantiated by exposure to different environments could improve human mental health and sustain the types of environments important for doing so.

Divine forgiveness may improve mental health
Experiencing divine forgiveness is important to self forgiveness, which, in turn impacts the quality of our relationships as well as our mental health and well-being. Professors Frank D Fincham and Ross W May of Florida State University, have presented preliminary evidence that feeling forgiven by God is associated with fewer depressive symptoms in a sample of healthy emerging adults. The authors also show that experiencing divine forgiveness is strongly related to depressive symptoms when people are less likely to forgive themselves but that the association weakens as people become more self forgiving.

Optimising wellbeing and development through music
Professor Graham Welch and the music education research team at University College London have conducted extensive work to evaluate and document the benefits of music for children. Their research has included large – scale studies of music programmes sponsored by governments and charities. The outcomes of these studies have shown clear benefits of music in supporting optimal health, wellbeing and development in children. The science data indicate that music holds great potential to support human development and enhance social and emotional wellbeing.

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