Over 20 community leaders from young, diverse outdoors communities are receiving mental health first aid training as a means to join the dots between the power of community, nature and mental health.

The training is being provided by The Hike Society by Columbia, an outdoor movement created to unite the next generation of hikers and outdoors people.

The initiative aims to equip hiking groups with the tools and confidence to deal with mental health illnesses in its community, encourage early intervention and raise awareness of mental health. Through the project, safe spaces will be created via “walk and talk” hikes that facilitate conversation and the sharing of mental health experiences in a supportive environment.

The initiative comes amidst a mental health crisis in the UK. Recent research from Mind, the mental health charity, revealed almost 20 million adults never speak about mental health despite one in four people experiencing a mental health problem of some kind each year and one in six report experiencing a common mental health problem, such as anxiety and depression, in any given week.

The Annual General Hike is on a mission to play its part in reversing the tide by connecting people to nature and the outdoors. Studies shows that people who are more connected with nature and the outdoors are usually happier in life and more likely to report feeling their lives are worthwhile. Nature can generate many positive emotions, such as calmness, joy, and creativity and can facilitate concentration – and this connectedness is also associated with lower levels of poor mental health, particularly lower depression and anxiety.

Eoin Treacy, marketing manager at Columbia said:

Through the power of community and the benefits of the natural environment we’re aiming to faciliate important conversations around mental health. We hope that the mental health first aid training and Annual General Hike’s walk and talk initiative will lead to many positive outcomes that the communities really benefit from.

Eoin Treacy, marketing manager at Columbia

There are 20 hiking communities expected to take to the hills, fells and coastlines, as part of the Annual General Hike by Columbia, with over 500 hikers expected to be in attendance. The event is free and tickets are available through The Hike Society hub.

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Workplace Wellbeing Professional is an online magazine featuring news and analysis on a broad range of employee wellbeing topics, focused on a UK based audience.