Mental Health & Nature - Dominique - Volunteer

As it is Mental Health Awareness Week, it is important to realise how widespread mental ill health is, and how it can be reduced by getting connected with your local wildlife and wild spaces.

One in four adults suffer from a mental health issue (such as depression or anxiety) every year

with one in six adults experiencing symptoms in any given week. In addition to this, physical ill health or inactivity causes 18 million sick days every year. Together, these issues cost British businesses approximately £1,000 per employee per year, not to mention the strain this causes to the NHS. It is estimated that the NHS could save up to £104 million per year if everyone had an accessible area of green space they could go to. A study by the Green Exercise Team at the University of Essex found that the health and wellbeing benefits The Wildlife Trusts projects deliver offer an important non-medical service that can and does reduce the current burden on the NHS.

A report released by Natural England in February 2016 looking at care farming, conservation and social and therapeutic horticulture found evidence that these activities provided an important and cost effective way of supporting mental health services. The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country offer a range of activities and opportunities for you to get involved in that are taking place on your local nature reserves. We also pioneer a Health and Wellbeing Course to help people use nature to look after their mental health. The Trust believes that by helping people learn how to take care of their mental health using nature, they will value the benefits and value nature, wanting to protect and conserve it so wildlife can thrive.

The Trust manages and maintains nine nature reserves across Birmingham and the Black Country, which each hold a variety of fun and interesting events for all ages specifically designed to help improve physical and mental health by connecting with nature. Sessions include exploring canals by canoe, wild play, wild walks, den building, conservation skills, wildlife spotting and identification.

A poll by YouGov produced in partnership with The Wildlife Trusts found that 89% of city-dwellers surveyed feel that nature is important to them but 80% of them don’t think they spend enough time in nature. Our job as The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country is to help people realise how simply connecting with nature through conservation, volunteering, gardening or just being ‘green’ can bring a range of positive benefits for those with existing mental ill health, including a reduction in depression, anxiety and stress symptoms and an improvement in dementia-related symptoms. Getting involved in physical activities in wildlife-rich, local environments has been known to also improve mood and reduce social isolation.

We as a Trust want to help people get or stay healthy and happy, to save our country money and to build strong communities that look after each other and the natural environment around them.

5 ways to boost your mental health using the nature on your doorstep:

Volunteer with us

Learning new skills and meeting people can lead to an increased sense of purpose and achievement, which increases self-esteem and guards us from anxiety and depression. All our groups are small, friendly and welcoming to beginners.    

 

Take your morning coffee outside, sit in the garden in the quiet morning, listen to the birds, take deep breaths and relax for five minutes. What wild flowers, bugs and animals are near you?

 

Grow something

 If you have a garden plant a shrub or tree to attract pollinators like bees that are in decline, if you don’t grow some herbs on a window sill. Caring for a green shoot, however small, connects us to nature and makes us feel good

 

Get in the habit of being in nature by signing up to #30DaysWild – a promise to do something wild every day in June, from holding your team meeting outside to taking half an hour to quietly watch the sunset, #30DaysWild helps you get in the habit of enjoying everyday nature every day. 

Sign up to get a FREE Activity pack

 

Join our expert team and volunteers to make a difference to a wild space near you this summer by participating in some practical conservation activities, make nature crafts or join our walks and talks. There is even a FREE My Wild Neighbourhood tote bag for all attendees.

Find Your Local Wild Day of Action

 

Nature & Mental Health Infographic
Early Bumblebee

Credit: Penny Frith

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