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Get ready to move for Mental Health Awareness Week!

The mental health benefits of moving and being active are behind this year’s theme. With just four months to go until the next Venari Partners Challenge, it’s something we’re only too happy to endorse


It’s no secret that contemporary life can be challenging and stressful, making it even more important for us to be conscious of our mental health. In England, one in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year, while one person in six reports experiencing a common mental health problem such as anxiety or depression in any given week.


Opening up about our struggles is sometimes easier said than done, though targeted campaigns can help to raise awareness and get people talking about their mental wellbeing. In the US, Mental Health Month has been observed in May since 1949. In the UK, the Mental Health Foundation runs Mental Health Awareness Week, which takes place on 13-19 May this year.


Exercise can boost your mental and physical health alike

One activity that can positively impact your mental health is exercise – something that Mental Health Week 2024 has underlined. The theme for the week this year is ‘Movement: Moving more for our mental health’. The concept of a healthy mind in a healthy body has been around since ancient times, and it’s a way of life that can still help us unwind and destress from our day-to-day routines. But just why is exercise so important for mental health?


Apart from the various physical benefits – including improved cardiovascular health, stronger bones, and increased strength and muscle tone – movement is good for your brain, too. When we exercise, neurotransmitters like endorphins and endocannabinoids are released, helping to curb stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and contributing to the sense of wellbeing or ‘runner’s high’ commonly associated with physical activity. Furthermore, exercise can improve the quality of your sleep, another factor that can positively affect your mood. Studies have also connected exercise with increased concentration and cognitive function.


Movement can take various forms

We recognise that for many people, there are obstacles to getting active. Working out might seem too difficult or intimidating – and that’s without mentioning physical, psychological, financial, or other barriers that might impede you.


However, a key message for Mental Health Week 2024 is that exercise doesn’t have to mean lifting heavy weights in the gym or running marathons. Moving can be as simple as going for a quick walk, getting off the bus a stop early, or doing some squats while you wait for the kettle to boil. Doing what you can and starting small can make a big difference – you can check out the Mental Health Foundation’s website for ideas on how to incorporate movement and exercise into your routine.


Poor mental health in the workplace is sadly all too common

While exercise isn’t a failsafe solution to mental health problems, it can help regulate your mood. This is an issue that we subscribe to passionately as a company – especially when workplace stress is, unfortunately, so common today. The Mental Health Foundation reports that some one in seven people experience mental health problems at work, with almost 13% of all sickness absence days are attributable to mental health conditions. Meanwhile, women in full-time employment are almost twice as likely to suffer a common mental health problem as men in full-time work.


At Venari Partners, we know only too well how important exercise is. Our job can be demanding, so we’ve made a point of offering subsidised gym memberships to help staff decompress. (We also have a dedicated employee assistance programme in place, providing our people with anonymous access to resources like cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling, and a 24-hour helpline.) Policies like these comprise just one aspect of our belief in corporate social responsibility (CSR) – another important facet of which is helping those less fortunate than ourselves.


Charity challenges combine our love of exercise and volunteering

For us, CSR is not just the right thing to do – it’s an essential part of our business culture and values. When we’re not on the phone to clients and candidates, you can usually find us planning – or undertaking – a charity challenge. We love pushing ourselves on adventures like these, as they combine two things that we’re passionate about and which are proven to do you good: exercise and volunteering.


In recent years, we’ve signed up for biking and hiking fundraisers for organisations such as the suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) and Macmillan Cancer Support with events like Nelson’s Tour de Test Valley, the Yorkshire 3-Peaks Challenge, and the Race to the Stones. In 2023, we launched our most ambitious CSR venture yet, the Venari Partners Challenge, in which we sent a group of deserving individuals on a fully funded trek through the Jordanian desert.


The aim of the campaign was to send people who have battled adversity on a life-changing trip they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to make, while raising money for charity in the process. The inaugural Venari Partners Challenge, which has been recognised by the International CSR Excellence Awards, the Better Society Awards, and Communitas, raised over £24,000 for ten different charities – and we’re thrilled to build on the success of this first outing again in 2024!


We’re delighted to be on the move for CALM

We are over the moon to be bringing the Venari Partners Challenge back this year, with nominations for a hiking and kayaking adventure through the stunning Norwegian fjords in September 2024 now open. Furthermore, we’re simply delighted to have CALM on board as the Challenge’s official charity partner; all participants will fundraise for this wonderful cause. Mental Health Awareness Week is as good a time as any to highlight CALM’s work to unite the UK against suicide – not least when statistics around suicide remain so shocking:


  • One in five people will have suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives

  • 125 people die by suicide in the UK each week

  • Suicide is the #1 killer of men under the age of 50 and of young people in the UK


Donations for this year’s Challenge will open after the participants are announced in July. Just £12.20 – the price of a couple of posh coffees or pints – can help CALM answer a potentially lifesaving call on their helpline. We would be very grateful for your support – please keep an eye on our website and social media for further updates.


Meanwhile, the nominations window for Challenge participants is open until 1 July. Can you think of someone who deserves a boost after a difficult period in their lives, and who would benefit from taking part in the adventure of a lifetime? If so, we’d love to hear from you.


For more on how to put someone forward for this year’s Venari Partners Challenge, just check out our webpage. Entries are free and open to all, and there’s no limit on the number of people you can nominate – including yourself!


Doing our bit to promote good mental health and giving to charity

We’re firm believers that companies can, and should, do more to make a positive impact on the communities in which they operate. We do not claim to have all the answers when it comes to reducing the impact of mental health problems in and out of the workplace. Rather, if we can inspire one person reading this to try to move more this Mental Health Week – or indeed, to support the Venari Partners Challenge – to us that will be a success.


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