Dame Julie Walters has urged people to spend “quality time” amongst nature in order to combat poor mental health.

The actress, 71, issued the call in a letter written with the Mental Health Foundation and marking Mental Health Awareness Week, which begins on Monday and this year has nature as its theme.

The foundation is running an initiative which asks people to share a photo, video or sound recording of nature with family, friends or on social media.

Dame Julie, whose recent screen credits include Paddington and Mary Poppins Returns, voiced her support for the campaign in an open letter.

She wrote: “This Mental Health Awareness Week we are inviting everyone to #ConnectWithNature to support their mental health.

“Spending quality time in and around nature can help reduce stress and help increase feelings of positivity, and you don’t have to be surrounded by fields or have to take a walk in the wilderness to feel the benefits.

“Try to stop and appreciate those little bits of nature around you that you may not have noticed before, a houseplant, the flowers in a neighbour’s window, or the sound of birdsong.”

Paddington 2 Premiere – London
Dame Julie Walters attending the Paddington 2 premiere (Matt Crossick/PA)

Dame Julie said the Mental Health Foundation was encouraging the public to “recognise and grow your connection with nature” by taking part.

“Connecting with nature can really make a difference to your mental health, and now more than ever, it is time to look after yours,” she added.

Dame Julie Walters has also campaigned on issues including dementia research funding.

In March she backed a petition calling on the Government to deliver on its election promise to double funding for dementia research.

This year Mental Health Awareness Week takes place between May 10 and 16.