The charity Mind report: Feel Better Outside, Feel Better Inside, includes new findings from the University of Essex showing the many benefits of ecotherapy for mental wellbeing. It has been proven to improve mental health, boost self esteem, help people with mental health problems return to work, improve physical health, and reduce social isolation.
Over the last five years Mind funded 130 Ecominds projects with support from the Big Lottery Fund. These projects have introduced more than 12,000 people with and at risk of developing mental health problems to ecotherapy initiatives such as gardening, food growing or environmental conservation work. Ecotherapy helps people to look after their mental health by getting active outdoors while being supported by trained professionals. Key findings reveal that:
-Mind’s Ecominds scheme helped 254 people find full-time employment with potential annual savings and contributions to the State of £1.46 million.
-Introducing just five people with mental health problems to ecotherapy saved the State more than £35,000 each year in costs for medication, Jobseeker’s Allowance and healthcare.
-Seven in ten (69%) people experienced significant increases in wellbeing by the time they left the Ecominds project.
-Three in five (57%) felt that there were more people in their lives who cared about them and they met more often with friends and relatives.
-Four in five (81%) got more involved in community activities and felt connected to where they live.
-Men are less likely than women to seek help for mental health problems and ecotherapy is a great way to engage them in wellbeing services - men formed three in five (56%) of Ecominds participants.