Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

Written by Richard O'Connor
Last updated May 10, 2024

We have over 40% fewer poor mental health days per month when we exercise. That’s right, the correlation between movement and our mental health is undeniable. So, what better theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 than “Movement: Moving More for our Mental Health”? 

In today’s blog, we’ll be celebrating all things exercise-related and how, with just a small bit of movement every day, you can improve not just your mental health, but also your fitness! It’s kind of a win-win if you think about it!?

We’ll also share vital support services for those struggling with mental health issues and some ways employers can incorporate mental health awareness into the workplace. 

Let’s get into it!

Why Movement Matters

This year’s theme of “Movement: Moving More for your Mental Health” is extremely fitting for mental health awareness week. Countless studies have proven the connection between exercise and improved mental health.

Here are some of the key findings:

Movement to Boost Your Mood

A study published in The Lancet Psychiatry analysed data from over 1.2 million adults and found that exercise was associated with a significant reduction in the number of “poor mental health days” per month. People who exercised reported 43.2% fewer days feeling stressed, anxious, or down compared to those who didn’t exercise.

Dancing to Combat Depression

A recent study by Australian researchers studied different forms of exercise and their effects at fighting depression. They found that dancing was actually the best way to fight depression. This was ahead of several other exercises like yoga, tai, chi, walking or jogging, and strength training, among others.  

Exercise to Reduce Anxiety

Research from the National Institute of Mental Health suggests that regular physical activity can help to reduce anxiety symptoms. Exercise is an excellent way to regulate stress hormones and can also be a form of distraction from anxious thoughts.

Walking for Cognitive Function

Harvard Medical School discuss the science behind how exercise improves cognitive function, including memory and thinking skills. They speak about how an activity as simple as walking for 150 minutes per week can help. It can have astounding effects on cognitive function and improved mental health.

Exercise for Better Sleep

Exercise can also lead to better sleep quality. According to the Sleep Foundation, regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly, and wake feeling more refreshed. This improved sleep, in turn, contributes to better mental health overall.

If that’s not enough proof that exercise and improved mental health go hand-in-hand, I guess you’ll just have to trust us! Maybe even give it a go for yourself and see how you feel.

Now let’s talk about how you can get involved in Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 (MHAW). Let’s all help spread the word about positive mental health practices.

Making Movement a Move for Everyone

The key to making MHAW 2024 a success is inclusion. Everyone needs to feel like they can get involved and make a difference in their lives and, hopefully, others. Different types of exercise suit different people, and some people might have limitations.

So, if you’re an employer organising an event this MHAW, here are ways you can make movement accessible for all:

  • Variety is the spice of life (and exercise): Offer a range of activities like walking, cycling, swimming, dancing or even chair exercises for those who prefer a gentler approach.
  • Walk and talk meetings: Ditch the stuffy boardroom and take advantage of the fresh air with walking meetings. A change of scenery can spark new ideas, too!
  • Accessibility matters: Consider offering equipment for those with disabilities or adapting activities for different fitness levels.

Year-Round Movement

But remember, mental health is something we need to take care of all year round, not just during Mental Health Awareness Week. With this in mind, here are some top tips for employers to incorporate exercise and movement into their workplace culture for good.

  • Get active at work: Offer lunchtime fitness classes, walking challenges, or even subsidise gym memberships to encourage movement before, during and after work.
  • Breaks for the body and mind: Build movement into the day by encouraging regular breaks for a walk, stretch, or a quick yoga pose.
  • Open up the conversation: Let employees know it’s okay to talk about mental health and that support is available if they need it.

This final point is key. While exercise is a great way to improve our mental health, it’s not a magic pill. Unfortunately, there are no magic pills when it comes to our mental health. All we can do is take advantage of all of the resources that are available to us and keep moving forward as best we can. This includes talking.

Mental Health Support

If you’re struggling with your mental health, the most important thing to do is seek help. Don’t bottle things up or suffer in silence. There are fantastic resources available to support you, and reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Here are some resources you can turn to:

  • Mind: This leading mental health charity offers a wealth of information and support services, including helplines, online resources, and local support groups.
  • The Samaritans: If you’re feeling overwhelmed or suicidal, The Samaritans are available 24/7 to offer a listening ear and confidential support.
  • NHS Talking Therapies: The NHS offers free talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for people experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
  • Mental Health Foundation: Researches ways to improve mental health and runs campaigns to like MHAW to support and protect good mental health.
  • Your GP: Your GP can be a great starting point for accessing mental health support. They can offer advice, refer you to a mental health professional, or prescribe medication if needed.

How We Can Help

Here at Aspiring to Include, we believe everyone deserves to be included. This is especially the case for our workplaces, where many factors can lead to employees feeling left out, unwelcome, and unhappy.

We know how powerful workplace inclusion can be, for well-being and beyond, and so we want to do everything we can to help it grow. 

There are two sides to our services: 

Job Seekers

Firstly, for diverse job seekers, we can help you in your job search with practical advice and guidance, support, and opportunities for connection. Our jobs board is filled with opportunities from Diversity-Positive employers, who you can also check out separately on our company directory.


Secondly, we have support for employers seeking to increase their inclusivity and diversity. Gain access to 10,000+ diverse job seekers by posting your job openings on our inclusive jobs board. Get started by creating a company profile and become an inclusive and diversity-positive employer. 

Have a question? Contact our team.

Share This Story

Last Updated: Friday May 10 2024
Go to Top