Green spaces and mental health - what’s the connection?
11 November, 2021
What do nature and green spaces have to do with our daily mental health practices? Well, quite a lot if turns out. ‘Sustainability’ and ‘green healthcare’ have long been thought of by many as an optional - and maybe rather quaint
- add-on to mental health care. Something that would be nice to include in our practice, but not an essential aspect and certainly not something that is linked to patient outcomes.
However, we are now seeing that nature-based care - spending time in and around nature, often structured as part of a group - can be a part of a new gold standard of care. Prescribing time in nature for those with mild mental illnesses can have a huge
impact on patients and can prevent symptoms from worsening.
For those with a mild and moderate mental illness, time in nature can support recovery and help prevent relapse when provided alongside more traditional care. This can include talking therapies, occupational therapy, pharmacological prescriptions and
So why are we talking about this at COP26? Well, not only does nature-based care improve patient outcomes, it can also help our planet. The NHS in England is a major contributor to to carbon emissions, responsible for 4-5% of our national carbon use.
It doesn’t come much more carbon neutral than spending time in nature, maybe even learning to garden or understand the natural world around us as part of a social prescription.
The health of our patients and communities are intrinsically linked to the health of our planet. By introducing nature-based elements to our practice we are improving the care that we provide to our patients and are making changes towards a more sustainable
It is our responsibility as psychiatrists to advocate for our planet because the planet’s health affects patients’ health. Planetary health is a social determinant of health and as such it should be at the absolute core of how we care for our patients.