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Mind has today released Feel Better Outside, Feel Better Inside, a report including new findings from the University of Essex showing the many benefits of ecotherapy for mental wellbeing. It has been proven to improve mental health, boost self esteem, help people with mental health problems return to work, improve physical health, and reduce social isolation.
Over the last five years Mind funded 130 Ecominds projects with support from the Big Lottery Fund. These projects have introduced more than 12,000 people with and at risk of developing mental health problems to ecotherapy initiatives such as gardening, food growing or environmental conservation work. Ecotherapy helps people to look after their mental health by getting active outdoors while being supported by trained professionals.
Key findings reveal that:
Mind found from a survey of GPs working across England and Wales that even though over half agreed that ecotherapy is a valid and suitable treatment for anxiety (52%) and depression (51%), nearly three in five (56%) said they need to see more evidence of the benefits of ecotherapy to refer confidently.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
"Our research shows people commissioning mental health services and social care that a holistic treatment like ecotherapy delivers not only health benefits, but wider social benefits and cost savings that medication could not. Ecotherapy improves mental wellbeing, it helps people to become more physically active, it gives people the skills to get back into work or training, and it helps people who are lonely or socially isolated to broaden their networks. These are all important factors that can prevent people developing a mental health problem to start with.
Last year a staggering fifty million antidepressant prescriptions were issued and currently one in five people with mental health problems have to wait up to a year to access talking treatments. When growing numbers of people are affected by mental health problems each year and they’re telling us that they want more options than drugs, now is the time for commissioners across health, social care and public health to take a fresh look at this evidence and realise the long-term benefits that holistic treatments like ecotherapy can deliver."