Ecominds gives £1.25m boost to national eco-projects
Posted Wednesday 16 September 2009
Today, five environmental organisations have been awarded a maximum £250,000 each to deliver flagship projects as part of a national wellbeing and environmental campaign (1).
Eco-initiatives given the green light include an organic farm offering therapy to disadvantaged young people and an eco-burial service which gives people the chance to have an environmentally friendly send off. The organisations fought off tough competition to receive the money from mental health charity Mind's oversubscribed grants scheme Ecominds, funded by the Big Lottery Fund.
Well-known organisations such as British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV), as well as promising start up initiatives were beneficiaries of the grant giving scheme. Just five projects were able to receive a flagship grant, yet hundreds of applications for funding have been received by the scheme. The successful projects were seen to offer the best benefit to the environment while giving people with mental health problems the natural therapy of working outdoors.
Successful projects include:
- Charity Hill Holt Wood will be developing an eco-burial service offering natural and environmentally-friendly burials to help sustain an ancient woodland. Once established, the service will fund a variety of activities that will provide opportunities for green exercise to people with mental health problems.
- BTCV will launch a project that will provide 450 volunteers to help resource 28 community conservation groups around the country. The groups will give volunteers who have experience of mental distress a rewarding project to work on, providing support, teaching skills and developing prospects for future employment.
- World-wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) are setting up a biodynamic organic farm to provide therapy and mental health recovery for disadvantaged young people leaving care. The farm will help rural regeneration, build the skills base and self-esteem of participants and break down the stigma surrounding mental health problems. There are hundreds of successful care farms across Europe and Britain lags far behind, leading to increased interest from health and social care professionals and prison service (2).
Barry Watts, Grants Manager of Ecominds said
The huge number of applicants for the flagship grants made our decision very difficult, especially given the quality of the projects that applied. The successful projects best showed how they would directly benefit the future of people with mental health problems on a long-term basis, as well as providing significant improvements to local environments. We wish them the very best of luck!
Ecominds is helping thousands of people across the country to improve their mental wellbeing through ecotherapy - encouraging people to get outdoors and get active. Ecotherapy has been proven to be as effective as antidepressants in treating depression (3). A study by Mind found that after just one country walk, 90 per cent of participants had increased self-esteem and 71 per cent reported decreased feelings of depression (4).
One in four people experience mental distress yet there still presides vast stigma about mental health problems. Social contact has been shown to be the most important factor in gaining better understanding of mental health. (5) By improving local environments, Ecominds hopes to promote the inclusion of people with mental health problems into their communities, breaking down barriers and helping to combat mental health discrimination.
(1) Flagship projects and grant allocations:
Urban Growth by St James - £248,577
Grow to Grow by World-wide Opportunities on Organic Farms - £249,260
Wellbeing Comes Naturally by BTCV - £250,000
Big Wood by Hill Holt Farm - £249,560
Consortium Project by Pennine Lancashire Community Farm - £250,000
(2) In 2007 Mind launched the Ecotherapy report for it's annual Mind week. The campaign called for ecotherapy to be recognised as a clinically valid treatment for mental distress.
(3) Halliwell, Up and Running? Exercise therapy and the treatment of mild or moderate depression in primary care, Mental Health Foundation (2005)
(5) Alexander & Link, The impact of contact on stigmatising attitudes toward people with mental illness, Journal of Mental Health (2003)