People in Tayside are being encouraged to get outdoors and connect with nature during Mental Health Awareness Week running until May 16.
Nearly two thirds of adults in Scotland (65 per cent) said being close to nature improves their mood.
But one in 10 (11 per cent) found it difficult to access nature when they wanted, according to a new survey into the effect of nature on mental health.
Research announced by the Mental Health Foundation Scotland to mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on nature.
Positive impact of nature
The Foundation shares powerful evidence of the positive impact engaging with nature can have on supporting good mental health.
With a wealth of beautiful green spaces and stunning coastline across Dundee, Fife, Angus and Perthshire, getting outdoors can be a simple but effective way to help wellbeing.
The Foundation’s new report ‘Nature: Mental Health Awareness Week 2021’ calls on the Scottish Government to introduce a Green Spaces Strategy. This will guarantee safe and accessible green spaces for all, transforming Scotland’s relationship with the outdoors, and improving mental and physical health.
Lee Knifton, National Director of Mental Health Foundation Scotland, said: “Connecting with nature helps reduce feelings of worry, anxiety and stress. In turn, it boosts positive emotions such as joy and calmness.
“That’s why we’re encouraging people this Mental Health Awareness Week to connect with nature in a way that feels good to them, whether that’s going for a walk in the park, looking after a houseplant, outdoor swimming, or bagging a Munro.
“The most important thing in terms of boosting our wellbeing is the quality of the experience and how we absorb the benefit by taking in the sights, sounds and scents of our surroundings.”
What you can do this week
The Dundee Green Health Partnership, led by NHS Tayside and Dundee City Council, has a week-long calendar of more than 50 free activities designed to improve people’s mental, physical and social wellbeing.
Dr Viola Marx, Green Health Partnership Coordinator, said, “Green Health Week aims to provide people with a variety of ideas and resources to access the outdoors and help mental, physical and social wellbeing by connecting people and nature.
“All activities are free but booking is essential as places may be limited due to the current COVID-19 restrictions. We really hope people in Tayside take part in the range of activities planned throughout the week.”
Some of the activities in Green Health Week include:
- Dr Bike Service from Dundee Cycle Hub providing free bike safety checks;
- litter picks in Ninewells Community Garden;
- free entry to Dundee’s Botanic Garden;
- plant sales throughout the week at Ninewells Community Garden, Dawson Park, V&A Dundee Community Garden at Slessor Gardens, and at the Community Fridge in Millers Wynd;
- a Green Health Treasure Hunt across Dundee’s green spaces;
- outdoor exercise classes with ParkLives;
- a Guided Natural History Walk at The Law and various competitions and online resources.
Lee Knifton continues: “We need the Scottish Government to produce a national Green Spaces Strategy and for each local authority to produce its own local strategy to ensure everyone can avail of the mental health benefits of connecting with nature.
“This includes protecting and enhancing green spaces in urban areas, ensuring all new housing developments include high quality green space, and expanding outdoor learning opportunities.”
Findings from the survey by You Gov of 1,055 adults in Scotland showed both positive impacts and barriers to getting out into nature.
Positive impacts of nature:
- Nearly two thirds (65 per cent) of adults in Scotland say being close to nature improves their mood.
- 60 per cent say being in nature has led them to experience positive emotions such as calm, wonder and joy.
- Almost half of adults in Scotland (46 per cent) said being close to nature helps them cope with stress.
- More than four in 10 (41 per cent) say being close to nature makes them less worried or anxious.
Barriers to nature:
- More than one in 10 (11 per cent) found it fairly or very difficult to access nature when they wanted to.
- One third of adults in Scotland (32 per cent) spent less than three hours in nature a week.
- Almost a quarter of women in Scotland (22 per cent) said not feeling physically safe or safe from harm had hindered them from enjoying nature, compared to 6 per cent of men.
- 18 per cent of Scottish adults with long term health conditions or disabilities said they had been prevented from enjoying nature due to not feeling physically safe from harm?
Where is your favourite local nature spot? We’d love to hear from you – email firstname.lastname@example.org.