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Mental Health Awareness Week

According to NHS Digital, mental health issues have increased by 30% in the last decade. Has our mental health declined or has the stigma of being diagnosed been disrupted? Many cite the climate crisis as impacting their wellbeing and ‘eco-anxiety’ has been a key driver in the rise of environmental activism.

The recent pandemic has brought mental health to the forefront on a global scale. We only need to scroll through social media to see how varied the response is. Some are relishing the simpler way of life while others are in deep shock and struggling to process the events. One thing is for sure, we’re all talking about it.

Many have reported the permitted daily exercise, encouraging more time in nature, has accounted for some improvements in mental health. There are multiple proven benefits to spending time outside including the increase of vitamin D exposure along with the production of serotonin while being active.

While some have experienced an improvement in their wellbeing, The World Health Organisation (WHO) predict a huge downturn in mental health as the pandemic recedes caused by economic challenges, trauma and burnout.

Time outdoors could continue to provide a cost-effective solution after lockdown ends. Research carried out by Leeds Beckett University found that prescribing time in nature provides excellent value for money when compared with alternatives, particularly when volunteering on ecological projects. The study, conducted for the Wildlife Trust, found that 95% of people reported improvements after 6 weeks of working in nature. Calls for investment in nature programmes as treatments for mental health issues have never been more important and would support rewilding of the environment the planet so desperately needs.

by Kitty Speakman

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