Connect with green space this World Mental Health Day
In the UK, approximately 1 in 4 people suffer from a mental health problem - that could be your mum, your brother, a friend, colleague, or maybe you’ve been suffering. Mental health problems are far more common than most people would think, yet they’re often still dismissed or overlooked. On top of this, recent data has shown children’s happiness is at its lowest point in a decade, with the climate crisis cited as a factor. The fact that problems with mental wellbeing are so common can no longer be ignored.
Two hours of nature
There have been many welcome developments in both the discussion around and the treatment of mental health problems recently, and some of the latest suggestions might also be the most accessible! A recent study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, has recommended we all spend two hours a week outdoors.
In the last few years, doctors have been more readily prescribing patients “green prescriptions”, with time in nature and community gardening projects top of the list. These green prescriptions, or ecotherapy, are already being used across the NHS to tackle anxiety, loneliness and depression with great results. The most recent study adds to this knowledge and is the first to identify a recommended amount of time, with two hours per week being optimal. Whether that is in one go or split between smaller doses is up to the individual, but it seems like ‘two hours of nature’ will join the ranks of universal health recommendations ‘five pieces of fruit and veg a day’, or ‘150 minutes of exercise a week’.
Thrive, a community garden charity, found that of the 317 people who took part in table-top gardening sessions in Berkshire, Hampshire and south Oxfordshire, 80 per cent reported better mental health as a result, with 93 per cent saying they had improved their confidence and motivation. Adding to that, gardening is not only beneficial to people’s wellbeing, but gardens themselves play a significant role in biodiversity and conservation issues, giving the activity a real sense of purpose in the current climate crisis.
What’s good for the planet can be good for you too
We’ve already mentioned how beneficial gardening can be, but if that’s not for you then there is a plethora of ways you can reconnect with nature and help your own mental health. For more information on the different ways that you can make the outdoors a part of your life, have a look at Mind’s Nature and Mental Health information. And for activities that the whole family can get involved in, no matter the size of your outside space, why not take part rewilding projects like our Naturehood programme?
This World Mental Health Day we’re encouraging you all to think about your own mental health and not to be afraid of speaking out. Green prescriptions and spending time in nature are brilliant mood boosters, but are by no means the only answer. If you’re suffering and need guidance then head to Mental Health Foundation, Mind or speak to a professional. Nobody should suffer alone.