Explains the mental health benefits of nature and gives tips and ideas to try. Also provides information on formal ecotherapy programmes, and where to find out more.
Many of us with mental health problems face barriers that might stop us connecting with nature. For example, you might:
"[I started out] by just finding an empty and unused space in the garden outside my window and tending to it."
Here are some tips and suggestions for you to consider:
"As someone who’s quite socially anxious, I’ve found it much easier to chat to people and make friends when you have a practical task to do together. You also share your love of nature with fellow volunteers and farmers, so you have easy common ground and there’s never pressure to chat if you don’t feel like it. I’ve got to know some of the best people I’ve ever known whilst de-lousing chickens and cleaning donkey hooves – this kind of work is extremely bonding."
"I volunteer with a local city farm. At first I was really nervous and my anxiety was sky high but I slowly built confidence, I made friends, I learnt new skills and I thoroughly enjoyed being active and outside. Attending regularly built structure in my week and became something to look forward to. Volunteering gives my life purpose and meaning, which – whilst not being well enough to work right now – is vitally important for my recovery, as well as helping build a sense of hope for the future."
"You don’t need to have gardening skills or knowledge to get involved in garden/horticulture projects – just a willingness to get your hands dirty is all you need for a lot of activities ... I just love weeding and shovelling compost!"
This information was published in May 2018. We will revise it in 2021.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.