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13 May 2024 | Comment | Article by Simon Ellis

Mental Health Awareness Week | The importance of movement

Marking Mental Health Awareness Week, Isobel Stokes, a Paralegal in our Military team discusses the impact movement can have on mental health and wellbeing.

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place between 13 – 19 May 2024. It is an annual event ensuring that mental health stays at the centre of public conversation and has been hosted by the Mental Health Foundation for more than 20 years. This year’s theme is movement and the positive impact it can have on mental health.

While regular movement and exercise doesn’t mean that an individual with mental health issues will not experience negative or painful emotions, it’s a great way to enhance our well-being and overall mood. The NHS recommends that adults should do between 75 and 150 minutes of activity per week. However, even a short 10-minute walk can help boost our mood and reduce stress.

Being active doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym or completing a strenuous activity, everyone can find a type of movement and exercise that suits them and their lifestyle.  Whether it’s taking your dog for a walk, swimming, yoga or going for a bike ride, any activity that raises your heart rate and makes you feel warmer can account to movement.

Some people can find it daunting to make lifestyle changes and start new activities.  If physical activity is new to you, how about joining a group or bringing a family member or friend to an activity?

MenWalkTalk is a national organisation which runs walking for mental health groups for men. They aim to reduce the stigma around men’s mental health and provide a safe space for men to talk about their feelings. Joining organisations like these at the beginning of your movement journey can be a great way to stay active, reduce anxiety, and develop relationships in your local community.

Our Military team acts for a number of veterans and serving personnel who struggle with their mental health for a variety of different reasons. One of these mental health conditions is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is a type of anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. In the cases of military personnel, this can stem from the trauma they have witnessed/experienced during their time on operational tours during service.

PTSD can develop immediately after experiencing a disturbing event, but can also be of delayed onset, sometimes years later. It is normal to experience upsetting and confusing thoughts after a traumatic event, and many improve naturally over a period of weeks. However, not all. If symptoms are more long term, then your GP can refer to specialists who can help. In the veteran community (England), this can be organisations such as Op Courage, which is an umbrella term for the Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS), the Complex Treatment Service (CTS) and the High Intensity Service (HIS). There is also Veterans NHS within Wales. There are many mental health charities outside of the NHS structure that can also provide care and support e.g. Combat Stress.

Exercise and physical activity can help reduce symptoms of PTSD, but individuals living with PTSD often face more barriers than others when maintaining regular exercise. For those unsure of where to start, the Mental Health Foundation have produced a helpful guide with some tips and suggestions to help individuals get started.

If you’d like to speak to one of our Military team for legal advice, please contact us today.

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Simon Ellis


Simon Ellis is a Partner with Hugh James and has worked with the firm for more than 25 years, having trained and qualified here. Simon heads up the Military Department, advising and assisting current and former military personnel with various health conditions and injuries. He specialises in claims such as hearing loss, non-freezing cold injuries, compartment syndrome and military injury cases. He is often asked to advise on more unusual claims in the military context.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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