An introduction to ecotherapy, a range of nature-based programmes that can support your wellbeing. Includes guidance on finding ecotherapy programmes near you, and how you can do it by yourself.

Your stories

Ecotherapy saved my life

Posted on 19/11/2013

What questions might I ask?

There's a lot to think about before signing up to an ecotherapy programme. This page will help you to think through some of the most important questions that you may have:

You might want to ask a friend, family member or support worker to help talk through your decisions with you.

Do I need to be referred?

This depends on the programme. For example, with Green Gyms and health walks you can often get in contact and join immediately. However with care farms and horticulture groups there may be a referral process or a waiting list.

(For more information about these programmes see our page on types of ecotherapy.)

Who can refer me?

When you first contact a programme they will tell you if there is a particular person who needs to refer you. Some programmes require a referral from your GP, whereas others may accept a referral from someone you see regularly, such as a social worker, occupational therapist or community psychiatric nurse (CPN).

If you attend a day hospital or day centre, you can ask your care coordinator or named worker to help.

Are there any costs involved?

Some programmes such as certain Green Gyms, health walks and some horticulture groups are free. Others, such as care farms, may charge varying amounts.

You might be able to get financial help to cover some costs of a treatment programme. For example, if you receive a Personal Budget it may be possible to use this to cover your costs.

What do I need to ask the programme leader?

Once you have decided that you want to join a specific programme, it could be useful to have a chat with the group leader or other members of staff who can answer any questions that you have. You might want to talk through the following areas:

Details about the sessions
  • What happens in a session?
  • How many people will be in the group?
  • What level of physical mobility or fitness will I need?
Practical information
  • Do I need any equipment?
  • Will I receive training? If so, what will that be and when will it be held?
  • Where are the sessions held, and what are the travel arrangements?
  • How long are the sessions?
  • How long does the course last?
  • Are all the sessions compulsory or is there a drop-in option?
  • Does it cost anything to do the programme?
  • Do you know where I can get financial help?
Application process
  • Is there a formal application process? If so, what is it?
  • Do I need a referral to join this programme? Who can refer me?
  • Have people with mental health problems done this programme before?
  • What mental health support is offered on the programme? Does this change at any stage?
  • Will there be anyone I can go to if I need extra support?
  • Can I bring someone with me for support?
Further opportunities
  • Are there opportunities to study for qualifications as part of the programme?
  • Will I get any work experience through this programme?

The person who runs the project always makes me feel welcome and glad I made the effort.

Is this the right time for me?

This is a very important question to consider before signing up to an ecotherapy programme. If you have recently been ill or are dealing with a mental health crisis, you might want to wait until you feel more stable before taking on a new challenge.

Take your time and find out what’s available. This way you can notice if the idea of joining up is feeling too stressful.

This information was published in October 2015. We will revise it in 2018.


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