exercise should be frontline treatment for mental health problems,
by Angela Hussain
exercise in the countryside should become a frontline treatment
for mental health problems, says a leading charity.
The charity Mind says research from a study it commissioned found
94 per cent of people reported “green” activities to
have benefited their mental health, lifting depression.
The charity says there is “a mass of new and growing evidence”
for “ecotherapy” to be recognised as a clinically-valid
frontline treatment for mental health problems.
Ecotherapy can include walking regularly in a park, flying a kite
or participating in a gardening therapy project.
Mind says the UK should follow the lead of other European countries,
such as Holland which already has 600 “care farms” providing
ecotherapy, including agriculture work on farms.
A new Mind report, entitled Ecotherapy: The Green Agenda For Mental
Health, includes findings from a University of Essex study which
concluded that 71 per cent of people reported decreased depression
after a walk. More than 70 per cent said they felt less tense, and
90 per cent had increased self-esteem.
Mind's chief executive Paul Farmer said: "Mind sees ecotherapy
as an important part of the future for mental health.
"It's a credible, clinically-valid treatment option and needs
to be prescribed by GPs, especially when for many people access
to treatments other than antidepressants is extremely limited.
of people have benefited from the green projects run by our local
Mind associations but if prescribing ecotherapy was part of mainstream
practice it could potentially help the millions of people across
the country who are affected by mental distress."
Mind’s report makes a number of recommendations including
that referrals to care farms should be incorporated into health
and social care referral systems.
report: Ecotherapy: The Green Agenda For Mental Health (pdf)
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