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May you lend a hand?

May does not fall short when it comes to providing worthy health campaigns for the pharmacy team to get on board with.

The month of May brings with it a range of causes for pharmacy teams to bring to light. As spring slowly paves the way for summer, there is a unanimous feeling of change in the air, which these four causes aim to capitalise on. Hoping to inspire a shift in individuals and the public as a whole in their respective avenues, the campaigns ask the public to spend some time thinking about their health and that of others.

National Walking Month

In light of the extended presence of daylight and absence of rain in May, National Walking Month seeks to get people walking more (although inside walking still counts). Running often gets much of the praise as a healthy way to exercise, but before one can run, one must first learn to walk, and there are numerous health benefits to walking. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise, as while you are walking, you carry your own weight. Walking for 20-30 minutes a day can positively impact cardiovascular and lung fitness, is linked to reduced risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, contributes to stronger bones, improved balanced, muscle strength and endurance and of course the reduction of excess body fat. There is also research which shows a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia linked with regularly walking each day.  People who suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and joint and muscular pain or stiffness have also seen improved management of these conditions through regular walking.

National Walking Month knows these health benefits and wants the public to know them too. Throughout the month the campaign encourages people to #Try20 – to try walk 20 minutes a day. The organisation has put together 20 tips to help people achieve this goal, from inviting a friend to go for a walk to walking to school instead of driving. Pharmacy teams can remind customers of the health benefits of walking and encourage people to participate in the #Try20 campaign, especially older customers who feel they are far away from exercise. Walking is easy, and it’s free, after all.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Keeping in line with the theme that movement is good for you, this year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May) is ‘Movement: Moving more for our mental health’. The Mental Health Foundation (MHF), which runs the awareness week, wants people to realise just how easy it can be to implement more movement into daily lives. “Being active is important for our mental health. But so many of us struggle to get enough exercise. We know there are many different reasons for this, so this Mental Health Awareness Week we want to help people find moments for movement in their daily routines. Going for a walk in your neighbourhood, putting on your favourite music and dancing around the living room, chair exercises when you’re watching television, it all counts,” says the organisation.

Mental health is a year-round, life-long aspect of health that requires care and effort to maintain. It is an aspect of one’s health that can be difficult to pay attention to, as unlike a broken arm or a bruised knee, it is not visible to others or even ourselves, however, it is one of the most important aspects of our health as it impacts our physical and social well being. Between 13-19 May this year, pharmacy teams can reiterate this to customers and encourage them to take a step in attending to their mental health, with something as easy and as fun as dancing.

World Hand Hygiene Day

5 May is World Hand Hygiene Day, and each year the day reminds health care workers and providers the importance of washing hands. ‘SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands’ is a slogan that has carried World Hand Hygiene annually and is a simple but effective message. The campaign is aimed specifically at health and care workers to limit the risk of health care associated infections (HAIs), with the 2024 theme being: ‘Promoting knowledge and capacity building health and care works through innovative and impactful training and education, on infection prevention and control, including hand hygiene.’ Hand hygiene saves millions of lives every year, says the World Health Organization (WHO), adding that “it is ultimately a very effective way to stop the spread of harmful germs in healthcare”.

Many people are unaware of just how crucial hand hygiene can be and the number of unnecessary infections caused by poor hand hygiene. World Hand Hygiene Day seeks to both raise awareness for the topic and to promote access to resources for health and care workers to educate themselves. By promoting World Hand Hygiene Day, the pharmacy team can remind all those providing services in various health care spaces to be vigilant when it comes to hand hygiene practices. Furthermore, pharmacy teams can use the opportunity to implore customers to wash their hands frequently to reduce the spread of germs and illnesses on a daily basis, especially if they or someone in their family or workplace is sick. The WHO have created downloadable resources and a toolkit for anyone wanting to participate to make use of, available from the WHO website. 

Deaf Awareness Week

Another week devoted to raising awareness for a worthy cause is Deaf Awareness Week, which runs from 6-12 May. The annual event aims to celebrate diversity and works towards creating a world where the impact of living with deafness is understood. The week focuses on promoting inclusivity, accessibility and bringing the Deaf and hard of hearing community to the fore, providing an opportunity for individuals and groups within the public to show their support. In the UK, one in five adults are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus. That’s around 10.1 million people in England, one million people in Scotland, 610,000 people in Scotland and 320,000 people in Northern Ireland, according to the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID). Each day throughout the week puts forward a specific message that the British Deaf Association (BDA) explains on their website. If pharmacy teams wish to get involved in promoting awareness for this important week in May, they can find more information and resources at

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