Partnership goes green for mental health awareness week

Posted on: 10 May 2021

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership is celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May).

This year, the theme for the week is ‘Nature’. Across the country, people will be celebrating the mental health benefits of being at one with nature in their local community in a range of digital and creative ways.

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership is funding 10 Green Social Prescribing Projects, which help connect people to nature to improve their mental and physical health.

The projects vary from a “pocket park” to a state-of-the-art urban food growing farm — and involve hospitals, GPs, local authorities, community groups, mental health and nature-based charities. All projects focus on communities who typically face inequalities in access to nature. They were selected in anticipation that they would have a long-term impact in their communities, inspiring others to follow suit and creating a step change across the region.  

Better Lives, a charity that is part of Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust is creating an allotment for their 100+ Early Interventions in Psychosis service users. People will learn how to grow their own food and cook healthy meals, making use of the facilities at nearby Keighley Healthy Living Centre. A therapeutic seating area will be created and used for meetings, group and individual therapy sessions and outdoor mindfulness (all following social distancing guidance). It’s the the first allotment of its kind at the Trust and they aspire to make it available to more people accessing support, using it as a proof of concept for further investment in allotments across the city. The project will be service user-lead, promoting empowerment, with staff facilitating.

Elizabeth Dickinson, Early Intervention Worker Psychiatry and Emma Clarke, Energy, Waste and Sustainability Manager, Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust said:

“We can’t wait to get started on our first allotment as we know a previous study on people’s mental health reported that people described a feeling of enhanced mood and improved concentration, a feeling of ‘being away’ and absorbed in the environment. This new allotment will allow us to focus on people’s aspirations and skills and also supports our wider Green Plan objectives. Improved access to and use of green spaces for nature-based projects for mental health is a key strand of our sustainability plans over the next few years. More information on the Green Plan can be found on the Trust’s website."

Dr Sara MunroDr Sara Munro, CEO Lead for West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Autism; and CEO for Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said:

“Our Climate Change Team gathered feedback from a survey on green social prescribing which asked people about their relationship with the local environment, looking at issues such as access to green spaces and nature-based activities. More than 92% of people who responded said they are interested in accessing nature-based activities such as yoga, walking groups and community food growing projects. In response, we have recently funded ten nature-based projects that specifically focus on improving mental health, targeting communities experiencing additional barriers to accessing nature, and expect to do more.  I’m looking forward to hearing more about how they all got along.”

One of West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership’s big ambitions is to become a global leader in responding to the climate emergency through increased mitigation, encouraging people to get closer to nature is a key part of that ambition.

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