The environment in which we live plays a pivotal role in shaping our mental health. From the air we breathe to the community we are part of, every aspect of our environment can significantly impact our mental well-being. As we celebrate and spread awareness of World Mental Health Day, let’s look at the intricate relationship between environment and mental health, shedding light on how our surroundings can influence our mental state and also, share examples of what do in St Martins.
The Physical Environment
Poor air quality has been linked to various mental health conditions. Exposure to air pollution, for instance, can lead to an increased risk of developing mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. At St Martins, we ensure our residents and staff have access to areas with clean air to maintain good mental health.
Excessive noise can lead to stress and anxiety. Constant exposure to loud noises, especially in urban settings, can be detrimental to an individual’s mental health. It’s essential to find quiet spaces or use noise-cancelling devices when necessary. St Martins has built its head office and services to include quiet spaces that have helped staff to work peacefully and also for residents to have a noise-free environment to live in.
Access to green spaces has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health. Nature has a calming effect on the mind, reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Regular walks in the park or time spent in a garden can significantly improve mental well-being. Green spaces are available for St Martins residents and staff in their respective locations which has contributed to better well-being and mental health.
Psychological Informed Environments (PIEs)
Psychologically informed environments (PIEs) are services that consider the psychological and emotional needs of residents and staff who have severe mental health problems.
At St Martins, PIEs are created by using trauma-informed approach, providing psychological training and supervision for staff, implementing a psychologically informed management system, designing a comfortable and welcoming physical environment, and involving residents and staff in the service delivery and evaluation. PIEs can improve the engagement, satisfaction, quality, effectiveness, and recovery of residents and staff, and reduce the risk of relapse, crisis, or hospitalisation.
The Social Environment
Community and Relationships
Being part of a supportive community can greatly enhance an individual’s mental health. Positive relationships provide emotional support, reduce feelings of loneliness, and increase feelings of self-worth. At St Martins, every site fosters building a supportive community for residents and staff where they can create healthy relationships with each other and create a harmonious environment of happiness and positivity.
Socioeconomic factors such as income and education can also influence mental health. Financial stress can lead to anxiety and depression, while lack of education can limit access to resources for managing mental health. St Martins has been able to provide financial support to residents through the help of local authorities while also providing them with educational opportunities to bring them closer towards recovery and independence. In the case of staff at St Martins, their salaries are reviewed every year to provide them with a sustainable income that matches the industry benchmarks and they also have access to staff benefits that can help them financially to save a lot of money on their daily expenses.
Our environment plays a significant role in our mental health. Both the physical aspects like air quality and green spaces, and social factors like community support and socioeconomic status, have profound impacts on our mental well-being. By understanding these influences, St Martins has already conducted an audit for Net Zero 2030 and has several plans in place to undertake the necessary steps towards implementing more initiatives towards creating healthier environments that will be carbon neutral across all our services and facilitate in fostering positive mental health for residents and staff.
- How Does Your Environment Affect Your Mental Health? – Verywellmind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-your-environment-affects-your-mental-health-5093687
- World Mental Health Day 2023 – Mental Health Foundation. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/public-engagement/world-mental-health-day
- How your environment affects your mental health – National Counselling Society. https://nationalcounsellingsociety.org/blog/posts/how-your-environment-affects-your-mental-health
- New review of evidence linking the environment and mental health – UKRI. https://www.ukri.org/news/new-review-of-evidence-linking-the-environment-and-mental-health/