It is estimated that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life and the prescribing of anti-depressants continues to rise. In recent years, social prescribing has offered a different approach to helping people with their mental health and visiting parks and green spaces form an integral part of green space or nature-based, programmes.
Social prescribing – sometimes referred to as community referral – is a means of enabling GPs, nurses and other health and care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services – Public Health England
A very helpful guide ‘Greenspaces for Mental Health‘ has been developed by Wendy Masterton, Dom Hall, and Dr Viola Marx. designed to assist with the delivery of effective greenspace programmes for mental health. It was produced with support from University of Stirling, The Conservation Volunteers and the Dundee Health Partnership.
Activities can include:
- Gardening or horticultural programmes
- Organised walks for wellbeing
- Forest walks and forest bathing
- Wilderness programmes
- Outdoor woodland learning
- Adventure programmes
- Nature-based mindfulness
- Conservation activities
- Care farming
Seven key research findings are shared, along with ideas about how to put them into practice.
1. Create that “feeling of escape” and removal from day to day life and stressors
2. Create space to reflect
3. Ensure availability of physical activity
4. Support participant empowerment
5. Deliver activities with a purpose
6. Build and maintain positive relationships between facilitator and participant
7. Provide shared experiences
You can download the guide from the Greenspace Scotland website here.