In our increasingly urbanised and techno world we live in many have forgotten about the green space around us, something that was brought to my attention by one of our trustees recently who, when asked why he continued to live in Burnley instead of returning to his West Midlands roots, said, “being within 10 minutes of the countryside in all directions was key”.
Why is the above paragraph so important? Well, connecting with nature has a positive impact on all of our mental health. Studies have found that spending time in green spaces helps people to de-stress and relax, helps people to overcome feelings of self-absorption that can worsen an individuals’ mental health.
A great example to showcase how we are, as a society, shifting in the way we think about the positive impact of green therapy and the natural world towards our mental health, was recently showcased at the Chelsea flower show this year. On show was a garden designed by Matt Keightley for the RHS Feel Good Garden. The garden had been designed to raise awareness of the positive impact of horticulture and the natural environment on our mental health.
What does this mean now though? Well, Camden and Islington Mental Health Trust will be the beneficiaries of the RHS garden after Chelsea has finished, allowing patients and their families the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of green therapy, and hopefully be a catalyst for positive changes in their lives. Secondly, the wider community is opening up, and becoming more knowledgeable to the benefits of green space and exercise for the wellbeing of everyone and thirdly, the stigma associated with mental health is reducing, and we are able to have open and frank discussions with our own family and friends around this previously stigmatised subject.
Throughout the work that PLCF are doing at the moment, we are hopeful of making sure that the green agenda, and working in partnership with local groups and the NHS, we can allow more people to access a non medical approach to mental health support.
We are always open for the benefits of people who may be at a loss for what to do, and help them to engage with others again in a positive manner. We do not feel that we have all the answers and that we are able to make everything “alright”, but what we can do is give purpose, peaceful space and a positive environment for people to join us in.
Recent studies have shown that the use of gardening as an exercise tool means that 2 to 3 hours of green exercise is the same as 1 hour exercise in the gym. This is important by the fact that green exercise and therapy is free!
We already know that the work we have done has had a positive impact on the many we have supported, in our most recent research we found that 95% of our Chilli Club members reported that the activities effects on their health and wellbeing was either positive or very positive.
If you or your family and friends feel that you would like to get involved and gain some benefits and experiences from attending PLCF we would be happy to see you. Please do not hesitate to come down and have a chat…possibly a brew.