Sarah McIntosh, Director of People at MHFA England, discusses how MHFA England will be participating with Mental Health Awareness Week 2019.

Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May) is in full swing. To support the week, here at Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England we are launching an exciting new initiative: #EmpowerHalfHour. It’s designed to encourage workplaces of all shapes and sizes to take part in Mental Health Awareness Week – and of course we are taking part too!

#EmpowerHalfHour consists of free 30 minute activities to boost your wellbeing at work and there are free resources anyone can download to get involved. Taking just a half hour break for a change of scenery or activity can boost energy levels and help to focus the mind. The goal is to help people to explore the link between mental and physical wellbeing, encourage colleagues to connect, and support them to start new, healthy habits.

We’re excited to try some new activities together next week and to bond and share even more as a team. Through getting to know our colleagues better we might be more likely to identify the signs if they are struggling with their mental health – and then offer support to them.  

We will be running an #EmpowerHalfHour everyday here at MHFA England throughout Mental Health Awareness Week but you might choose to run just one or two activities from the range of ideas we have put together. We hope our own plans, in line with some of the key themes, will help inspire you to run an #EmpowerHalfHour at your workplace:

Share – lunch and learn

We are thrilled to be joined by Jules Guaitamacchi, an MHFA England plenary speaker, for what promises to be an interesting and insightful lunch and learn. We’ll be bringing our lunch along to hear about Jules’ personal experience of mental health, and their thoughts about what we can do to better support the mental health of marginalised communities.

Discover – mindfulness session

We’re running a mindfulness session open to everyone – from those who have never tried mindfulness before to those who practice every week. Everyone who wants to take part will be taking a break away from their desks over lunch time to join in.

Mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment. It helps us to be more present and appreciate what is going on now – not worrying about the future or the past. It can help prevent and manage stress by encouraging us to engage with and appreciate the everyday things we experience.

Move – run club

We’re getting active! Why not try a gentle run to look after your body and mind at the end of a day in the office? The MHFA England run club will be following a route around our local sights to get those hearts pumping!

Move - yoga practice

We’re offering a yoga session pitched for all levels. This gentle exercise class will include stretching for the body and mind, relaxation and play. If you don’t have space in your workplace to dedicate a whole room to practicing yoga – why not try chair yoga?

Bond – team shared lunch

We’ll be rounding-off Mental Health Awareness Week by bonding with colleagues over a shared lunch. Team members can each bring a dish to share with the group that makes them feel good. It might be a family favourite or something they’ve tried before on holiday. While we dig in to delicious food there will be an opportunity for everyone to share the back story of their dish.

Are you running an #EmpowerHalfHour in your workplace? We’d love to hear about it! You can join the conversation on social media using #EmpowerHalfHour to share your plans and see what others are doing to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.

You can download your free #EmpowerHalfHour resources and support Mental Health Awareness Week at: