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Nature and the Outdoors: Mental Health Awareness Week

In these unprecedented times, we have been forced to change our normal routines, activities and interactions more than ever before. Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) provides us with an annual opportunity to take action, and this years theme is nature and the outdoors. It's important now more than ever to make mental health a priority and normalise open conversations to ensure nobody is suffering in silent.

To close Mental Health Awareness Week, we would like to share a short story with you...

Meet Colin. He is a former Royal Marine Sergeant who has lived a very active life playing rugby, skiing and expeditioning all over the world. As a result of this active life, he has developed advanced stage hip osteoarthritis and has been suffering in pain for about 18 months. Prior to his diagnosis, there was uncertainty over what was causing the pain which had caused great discomfort and distress, forcing him to turn down work due. The psychological impact of not having clarity over the cause or solution was weighing heavy on his mind, especially as the pain and his limited mobility was preventing him from leading an active life. He described, "I was given time spans of 18 months to 2 years for an operation and as you can imagine that was playing on my mind, I lost work, yes so it was affecting me not only physically but in particular mentally and financially as well".

We were able to treat Colin, 8 weeks pre-operatively and 12 post-operatively following his hip replacement in January 2020. Using the re.flex solution, Colin was able to train daily, guided the exercise program on the application. He was able to connect and message his physio on a daily basis through the messaging support feature on the app, to alleviate any concerns about his progress, pain and exercises in real time. The solution empowers patients to take control of their recovery process whilst clinicians are able to support, adjust and monitor from a remote location. Colin has been able to achieve incredible outcomes pre-surgery, reducing his medication and getting himself fit for surgery, to give him the best opportunity of recovery.

He explained, "regarding my mental health re.flex has played a massive part in keeping me positive and active. Without the program I would have experienced high levels of anxiety and depression, which would have meant a longer and more painful recovery. The fact you have a physio at your fingertips everyday is very reassuring and certainly stops you from feeling alone in your rehabilitation. I was able to get back to my nordic walking quickly and enjoy the outdoors with a steady reduction in pain levels. This helped me with my mindset and whilst I did experience black days, they were less frequent than if I had no access to the re.flex programme".

Colin is now back to doing the things he loves. Nordic walking on Dartmoor, teaching & leadership and even has plans to be expeditioning again in the near future. Watch his pre-operative story below.

At DPT we are very passionate about supporting our patients on a daily basis, throughout their entire recovery journey. We believe that by using digital technology we can bring patients and clinicians closer together to achieve greater outcomes. We want to educate, guide and support patients who are in some cases are experiencing a once in a lifetime surgery, to recover in the best possible condition, so they can return to doing activities they love. We encourage our patients to make the most nature and outside activity not only for the physical benefits but the mental ones to.

We should be aware of our mental health every single day of the year, but Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) provides an our annual reminder to take action. If you are not suffering with mental health, we all have a role to play in supporting each other and raising awareness to normalise mental health. So, I encourage you to have conversations, reach out to friends and share your own experiences of mental health as much as possible.

If you are suffering with mental health, please, please remember you are not alone. Take time to chat with family and friends, healthcare practitioners or make use of the free online resources provided by Mind Charity and the NHS Mental Health Services. Nobody should ever suffer in silence.

Josh Lewis

Chief Operating Officer



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