Mind argue that while there is a growing interest in ecotherapy it is still on the ‘margins of mental health policy and service provision.” They have now put forward a ten point plan to get this more into the mainstream. Here's summary of the main points.
1. Ecotherapy should be recognsed as a clinically valid treatment for mental distress. Mind do not think that we should see treatments as 'either-or' and that people will benefit from a combination of treatments.
2. Allocation of health and social care budgets should be reinforced by cost-benefit analysis of ecotherapies. For example, getting people involved in tree planting or community gardening could help prevent mental distress in the future and so save money in the longer term.
3. GPs should consider referral for green exercise as a treatment option for every patient, experiencing mental distress. At present over 90 per cent of doctors prescribe anti-depressants as they don't have access to other types of therapy.
4. Access to green space should be considered as a key issue for all care planning and care assessment processes. For example, access to green space and gardens should be available for all inpatients and people involved in care plans.
5. Referral to green care projects - such as green care farms - should be incorporated into health and social care referral systems. There are a few of these places in the UK but more needs to be done and a National Care Farming Initiative has been set up. (See resources section.)
6. Inequality of access to green space should be addressed as a human rights, social justice and discrimination issue. They point out that those who currently do not have good access tend to be those without cars and often those who are most marginalised and excluded.
7. All health, social care and criminal justice institutions shoule be required to ensure access to green space. For example, this would mean all hospital patients and prisoners having access to gardens.
8. Designing for mental wellbeing should be recognised as good practice for architecture and town and country planning.
9. The benefits of green exercise should be promoted by public health campaigns, targeting young people in particular.
10. Ecotherapy projects should be evaluated to collect dta and continue to build an appropriate evidence base. They are particularly keen to see large scale surveys which may show the long-term economic benefits.
Information on projects involving adults has yet to be added. You can look at information on forest schools in the next section looking at learning outdoors. This section also covers other green projects for children and young adults.
Below is a project which works to promote 'green exercise'
Since the 1960’s, Ardroy has facilitated the development of children and adults in a stunning mountain setting. Kayaking in pristine lochs, climbing mountains and learning bush skills in woodland provide life-changing experiences. In response to current social issues, a Healthy Mind and Body programme was developed and has been very successful to date. Groups learn about themselves, their emotions and health through adventurous activities, active reviewing and simple time spent in beautiful places. Ardroy staff have noted that participants have increased self esteem, improved emotional intelligence and a more positive outlook on when they leave the Centre. This then aids them in regaining a healthier relationship with themselves and the environment.
Please let us know if there is a project which you think we should be highlighting here. Email firstname.lastname@example.org