Major new study shows ‘green care’ benefits for mental health

News item first posted on: 10/02/16

A major new report shows compelling evidence that the ‘green care’ offered by many Federation of City Farm and Community Gardens members can help people with mental ill-health and contributes to a reduction in levels of anxiety, stress and depression.

Natural England’s ‘A review of nature-based interventions for mental health care’ calls for greater use of green care such as social and therapeutic horticulture, care farming and environmental conservation, as a cost-effective solution for mental health and social service commissioners.  

The study also cites FCFCG as a key national organisation supporting social and therapeutic horticulture projects and practitioners. 

Jeremy Iles, CEO of the Federation, said: “This important new study reinforces what we already know about the multiple benefits of green care for mental health.  Most community growing projects and farms already offer green care services.

“We are working to create new opportunities for people to access nature-based therapies at home, in the workplace and at hospitals and schools. We hope this report will raise awareness of green care and act as a springboard for greater collaboration.”

The new review was commissioned by Natural England from the University of Essex and Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity. It suggests that green care interventions can provide an increasingly important way of supporting mental health services, with many projects already making a difference to people’s lives.

The benefits of such interventions include a reduction in depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms, and an improvement in dementia-related symptoms.

The report also shows that people involved in these types of green care activities have a greatly increased level of social contact and inclusion, as well as a sense of belonging and personal achievement.

Alan Law, Natural England’s Chief Strategy and Reform Officer, said: “There is now compelling evidence to show that contact with nature and the outdoors improves physical health and mental wellbeing. Natural England is committed to find ways to help more people access the benefits that come through practical experiences in the outdoors.”

Click here to find out more and download the full report.