Ecotherapy

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executive summary

Ecotherapy
The green agenda for mental health

Mind week report, May 2007 www.mind.org.uk/mindweek Executive summary
Background
With this report Mind calls for a new green agenda for mental health, following growing evidence in support of an accessible, cost-effective and natural addition to existing treatment options – ecotherapy. Ecotherapy is a natural, free and accessible treatment that boosts our mental wellbeing. Whether it’s a horticultural development programme supervised by a therapist or a simple walk in the park, being outdoors and being active is proven to benefit our mental health. As the cost and prescribing of drugs continues to rise, and 93 per cent of GPs say they have prescribed
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Ecotherapy, a treatment that is free of unpleasant side-effects, offers a cost-effective and natural addition to existing treatments.

The principles behind ecotherapy are not new. In the past, mental health institutions were often situated in pleasant gardens and natural landscapes. But these considerations no longer play a significant role in the planning of urban and rural space – in the design of hospitals, the treatment and care of people experiencing mental distress, or the identification of public health and social care priorities.

Many of the over 200 local Mind associations across England and Wales run green projects – including Last year, The Depression Report by Lord Layard drew walking, gardening and conservation work. The attention to the economic costs of mental distress thousands of people who use our services place and the lack of treatment options. The report made great value on these kinds of activities, and report the case for “a new deal for depression and anxiety that they have a positive impact on mental health disorders,” pointing out that three-quarters of the and wellbeing. six million people in Britain diagnosed with these disorders were not receiving treatment. Of those that A solid evidence base is essential to promote the were, most were prescribed pills when they would benefits of ecotherapy. More and more evidence have preferred therapy. has been emerging in recent years, which demands a serious response

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