Puffin Produce Mental Health First Aiders Left to Right Matthew Thomas, Jane Sadler, Gareth Richards, Penny Odey

Puffin Produce mental health first-aiders, (l-r) Matthew Thomas, Jane Sadler, Gareth Richards and Penny Odey

Haverfordwest-based fresh produce company Puffin Produce Ltd is recognising Mental Health Awareness Week by encouraging employees to connect with nature.

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week, which is in its 21st year and takes place on 10-16 May, is the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health.

This year, The Mental Health Foundation’s aim is to encourage people to connect with nature by taking part in activities such as doing half an hour of exercise or keeping a nature journal.

Jane Sadler, HR manager at Puffin Produce said: “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of mental health in the face of the unprecedented challenges we have all faced. We want to send out a strong, positive message about this vitally important issue to our employees who have continued to work incredibly hard throughout this time. We have taken a proactive approach by introducing Mental Health First Aiders who employees can speak to for any type of support. Moving forward we are going to work with the DPJ Foundation – a Welsh Mental Health Farming Charity to highlight mental health and support them in their vital work.”

Kate Miles, charity manager at the DPJ Foundation said: “We are really pleased at the DPJ Foundation to be working with Puffin Produce to support good mental health. This past year has been extremely difficult for many people and we know that the support we provide to the agricultural community in Wales through our Share the Load service and access to counselling is more important now than it ever has been. Working with Puffin Produce will allow us to reach more people and will help us to raise awareness of mental health issues and show more people how to look after their own mental health.”

According to the UK Mental Health Foundation, during the long months of the pandemic, millions of people turned to nature. The foundation’s research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic showed going for walks outside was one of the top coping strategies and 45 per cent of people reported being in green spaces had been vital for their mental health.

Mark Rowland chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation said: “Mental Health Awareness Week has grown to be one of the biggest awareness weeks in the UK. This year the theme is on nature and its central role for our mental health. Since the beginning of the pandemic, millions of us turned to nature to help us get through lockdowns and our research shows that good mental health depends on us being able to connect with nature in some way and its power in both prevention of and recovery from poor mental health.”

Throughout the week, Puffin Produce will be communicating top tips on how to improve mental well-being, such as taking a break from social-media, learning something new to enhance self-esteem or simply taking time to appreciate the beauty in every day.

Jon Langmead, finance director at Puffin Produce said: “Recognising the need to look after our colleagues has never been more important, and it is imperative that our employees prioritize their mental health. The post-pandemic landscape presents us with an opportunity to implement good mental health wellbeing strategies. We continually want to emphasise that wellbeing is a priority and are trying to normalise conversations about mental health amongst our colleagues.”