Conference: Feel better outside, feel better inside

Date: 23 October 2013
Venue: The King's Fund

The conference was attended by professionals working in ecotherapy, health and social care; and people working in environmental/nature conservation where health and wellbeing is increasingly a priority.

If you missed the event we have full audio recordings of each session. 

Ecotherapy works

The event saw the launch of Mind’s Ecotherapy Works campaign that makes the case for ecotherapy as a public health intervention and a mental health treatment in its own right. Mind’s lottery-supported Ecominds scheme provided the evidence to support the campaign, presented in a new report Feel better outside, feel better inside which was also launched at the event. 

Throughout the campaign, Mind asked people to email their health and wellbeing board chair, to draw their attention the evidence that ecotherapy is a cost-effective way to improve both physical and mental wellbeing, which is accessible and inclusive.

The programme

Morning session

The fast-paced day included keynotes from Paul Farmer (Mind Chief Executive), who introduced the Ecotherapy works campaign and was followed by Rachel Bragg (University of Essex) who gave an overview of the new wellbeing research findings from Ecominds.

They were joined by representatives from two Ecominds-supported projects: Paula Conway from Grow2Grow in Kent who explored the use of ecotherapy as a treatment for young people with mental health problems, and Dominic Higgins from TCV's Wellbeing Comes Naturally who considered the wider public health benefits of ecotherapy using examples from TCV's Green Gym initiative.

The conference also heard a personal account from Michael Lishman, an Ecominds beneficiary, who recalled his experiences of using Growing Well in Cumbria. The morning session continued with keynotes from Heema Shukla (Public Health England) and Olivier Vardakoulias (nef consulting).

To close the morning session, speakers joined together for an engaging panel discussion with questions from the floor hosted by the event chair, Karen Lowthrop (CEO Hill Holt Wood).

Afternoon session

The afternoon featured a lively presentation from Big Lottery Fund, England Director Dharmendra Kanani. He was followed by Ecominds-funded project staff who explored practice examples from the funding scheme.

Beren Aldridge from Growing Well talked about measuring outcomes and proving value to commissioners. Lisa Cunningham from PoLLeN discussed the merits of different ways of measuring wellbeing.       

Marina Robb from Earthwise explored how their project worked with children and young people in East Sussex. The event closed with rousing presentation from Grounded Ecotherapy where Ken Greenway, Kelvin Barton and Paul Pulford gave a passionate account of their innovative work with people who have drug and alcohol misuse problems in London.

Listen again

If you didn't make it to the event or missed a session you can listen to full audio recordings from each session.


Speaker presentations from the event are available for download here:

Morning presentations

> Rachel Bragg - University of Essex [PDF: 999 KB]

> Paula Conway - Grow2Grow [PDF: 891 KB]

> Dominic Higgins - TCV Wellbeing Comes Naturally [PDF: 781 KB]

Afternoon presentations 

> Dharmendra Kanani - Big Lottery Fund [PDF: 745 KB]

> Beren Aldridge - Growing Well [PDF: 967 KB]

> Lisa Cunningham - PoLLeN [PDF: 472 KB]

> Marina Robb - Earthwise [PDF: 859 KB]

> Ken, Kelvin and Paul - Grounded Ecotherapy [PDF: 1.2 MB]

Your stories

For many people, taking part in ecotherapy has been a life-changing experience.

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