Ecotherapy in practice

Based on learning from our Ecominds scheme, we’ve produced a range of good practice briefings with practical examples of ecotherapy services developed for people with mental health problems.   

The briefings are useful points of reference if you want to find out more about ecotherapy, develop an ecotherapy service, or campaign for more ecotherapy services in your area.

Download our practice briefings

Working with health professionals and commissioners

BriefingCommissioning ecotherapy to improve physical and mental health [PDF: 675KB]
This briefing details a number of ecotherapy-style services that have been commissioned by clinical commissioning groups and public health teams.

BriefingGrowing Well: Building links with GPs and social prescribing [PDF: 313KB]
Growing Well in Cumbria supports people to take part in farming activities to improve their mental health. The project has run a social prescribing pilot with local GPs. 

BriefingPoLLeN: Building links with health professionals [PDF: 432]
PoLLeN is an innovative horticultural project that's co-located at a health centre in Bromley by Bow. 

Getting the support of the wider community    

BriefingYork House: Using ecotherapy to engage the wider community [PDF: 349KB]
Mind BLMK started an ecotherapy project at the York House Centre, that helped to transform the grounds and open them up for community use.     

BriefingWellbeing Comes Naturally: Using environmental conservation to improve community cohesion [PDF: 511KB]
The Conservation Volunteers used their Green Gym programme to support people with mental health problems in local green spaces. This proved to be a great way of reducing stigma and getting the wider community engaged in conservation. 

Using ecotherapy with people who have specific support needs

BriefingPutting Down Roots: Using ecotherapy to support homeless people [PDF: 362KB]
St Mungo's Broadway use horticulture to engage homeless people in a service that helps them to learn new skills and improve their mental and physical health.  

BriefingGreen Therapy for Survivors of Torture: Using ecotherapy to work with people who have experienced trauma [PDF: 454KB]
Freedom from Torture uses horticulture to rehabilitate traumatised men and women through a project called Natural Growth.   

BriefingHealthy Parks, Healthy Minds: Ecotherapy for people with enduring mental health problems [PDF 367KB]
Groundwork has developed a service that helps people with a wide range of mental health problems, including people with severe and enduring problems. 

BriefingGrowing Skills: Developing skills and confidence of people with mental health problems [PDF 398KB]
Trees for Cities has created a project that improved the skills and confidence of people with mental health problems who have been unemployed for long periods.  

Creating safe, person-centred ecotherapy services

BriefingIdle Valley Ecominds: Creating a person-centred service and strengthening participant decision making [PDF: 359KB]
Staff and volunteers worked closely to make sure ecotherapy sessions at Idle Valley Nature Reserve were supportive and met their needs. 

BriefingThe Green Team: Using ecotherapy to create a safe and supportive space for adults with mental health problems [PDF: 384KB]
Project staff worked with service users to create a safe and unthreatening environment at the Stroud Valleys Project.  

 

It helps just by being out-doors in a beautiful place surrounded by wildlife, but then I’m also able to contribute something and I feel like it’s being valued. I’m not treated like a social outcast, I am respected and encouraged in all that I do here, and I love working with all the different groups.

Case studies

Woman in garden leaning on spade looking at the camera

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

> Hear their stories

Ecominds

Three women sitting at table in greenhouse sorting vegetables

Between 2009 and 2013, Ecominds funded 130 ecotherapy projects across England.

> About our Ecominds funding scheme

Why ecotherapy?

Ecotherapy saves money and improves people's mental and physical wellbeing.

> The benefits of ecotherapy

Mental Health A-Z

Information and advice on a huge range of mental health topics

> Read our A-Z

Training

Helping you to better understand and support people with mental health problems

> Find out more

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