Ecotherapy: Nature vs. Mental Illness?

Ecotherapy is a form of therapy that aims to promote good mental and physical health, through outdoor activity in a green environment.

Getting back to nature has always been hailed as good for your health, but recently the scientific community is recognising the benefits of being green fingered too.

Ecotherapy can be:

  • Green exercise therapy – physical activities in green spaces, e.g. walking
  • Environmental conservation
  • Social and therapeutic horticulture – gardening or growing food in allotments
  • Nature arts and crafts – art-based activities in the natural environment, or that use natural materials such as wood, grass and clay
  • Animal assisted therapy (AAT) – a therapy using guided contact with animals, such as dogs

Mental health charity Mind is championing ecotherapy with their new scheme, ‘Ecominds’, which has given a funding boost to 130 local environmental projects.

What are the benefits of ecotherapy?

  • Improved mental health
  • A boost to self esteem
  • Improved physical health
  • Reduced social isolation
  • New skills learned

Creative Support has a number of ‘ecotherapy’ initiatives, such as Sandy Lane Gardening Group, who were recently part of the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park (pictured) and won the Eaves Brook in Bloom Award!

Sandy Lane Gardening GroupThey have grown from being a small project to becoming part of the local community and doing gardening work for other projects and local green spaces.

One of the great things about the group is that there is a role for everybody, from planting flowers to keeping the gardeners going with cups of tea.

GPs are prescribing anti-depressant medication at an alarming rate and waiting lists for talking therapy can be up to a year. With one in four people suffering from mental illness at some point in their lives, we need a therapy revival.

Ecotherapy can be used in conjunction with other treatments, such as talking therapies or medication, or on its own. The western world has become immersed in technology: TV, computers and mobile phones are a daily part of our lives and we have become disconnected from nature.

Maybe a dose of the great outdoors is just what the doctor ordered!

by Natasha Bolton, Marketing and Events Intern





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