Eco therapy is coming to Boscombe. A new project called ‘Parks in Mind’, an offshoot of the established ‘Bournemouth Parks Foundation’ will be starting this October.
The aim is to help people with mental health problems, although any one can attend, and lift their mood through contact with nature.
Starting on Monday 2nd it can be found here:
Statistics from the National Health Service local authority show that there are a lot of people in Boscombe who could do with help of this kind.
The volunteers will work on local parks restoring flower beds and planting trees etc alongside professional mental health workers.
It has been stressed by Bournemouth Parks Foundation that the work does not affect park staff rather it will be in addition to what they do. It will also be activities that the council can’t afford to do.
The project is funded by ‘Public health England’ and it is said that it will help scores of people.
Peter Halloway, Senior project leader of ‘Parks in Mind’ said: “(They will be) meeting other people. There will be physical fitness activities to maintain the parks like planting trees and digging beds.
He went on to say that other benefits include: “Mental rehabilitation by being outdoors in nice environments.”
‘Parks and green spaces are estimated to save the NHS around £111 MILLION per year solely on a reduction in GP visits.’
Eco therapy is nothing new and has been tried and tested in other areas of the country with great success.
A project called ‘Healthy Parks Healthy Minds’ in Northumberland has succeeded in helping dozens of isolated people and those with mental health problems.
Jane Austen Walker, their senior project officer said of their work: “Incredibly successful, we had one person who was extremely far from employment. He came out with me for a few years and slowly got closer and closer to being more employable. Then ended up getting a job after about 4 years.”
Healthy parks Healthy Minds has been going successfully for 12 years but Jane said, the idea has been around since the 70’s.
‘Parks and green spaces generate health benefits that would cost more than £34bn if they did not exist.’
Eco therapy has generated great enthusiasm among academics as well. In a 1996 book called ‘Eco therapy’ Howard Clinebell wrote: ‘People are intimately connected with, embedded in and inseparable from the rest of nature.’
Academics at the University of Essex in 2007 found in study of a depression group that 90% felt better in nature and of those with mental health problems 94% said their mood was lifted.
It was concluded that being in nature was just as effective as psychotherapy or medication.
Praise for nature can be traced right back to the 19th century in the works of poets such Emerson, Blake, Yeats and the American Walt Whitman.
‘Lonliness is as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. But parks can combat the big killer that is loneliness by bringing people together.’
Parks in mind however is a unique project in that it is a sort of experiment. Peter Halloway said: “The idea in this particular project is that we will monitor progress to show that it’s a valuable thing to do.”
The idea it is hoped will also benefit the wider community as it will, ‘Further enhance the amazing parks we have got in the area.’
Other people agree. Cathy Garner foundation manager for Bournemouth Parks Foundation said: “I think it’s really exciting. I think it’s something that will really benefit the communities those parks are in and those individuals that will be participating in the activities.”
‘People would need to spend £974 each year to achieve the same level of life satisfaction they get from parks if they were not there.’
Any one who thinks they might need help with mental health or isolation problems can contact their GP for a referral to ‘Parks in Mind’
The hush of natural objects opens quite
To the core: and every secret essence there
Reveals the elements of good and fair
Making him see, where Learning hath no light.