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Finding Wellness in Nature

Sophie Burns, Somerset Wildlife Trust, discusses the importance nature has on our mental and physical wellbeing.

“The natural world is the larger community to which we belong. To be alienated from this community is to become destitute in all that makes us human. To damage this community is to diminish our own existence.” – Thomas Berry, Cultural historian

“The need to help promote mental health is never more critical than under the Covid-19 pandemic. The Centre for Mental Health modelling predicts that up to 10 million people across England (almost 20% of the population) will need either new or additional mental health support as a direct consequence of the crisis.

As we emerge from the past two years of pandemic, and face further changes to come perhaps we must ask ourselves, how can we stay well in sick times? As health practitioners, where can we go to resource ourselves to be strong for our clients, and communities – and how can we best support them to be well?

There is growing evidence that spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both mental and physical wellbeing. For example, doing things like growing food or flowers, exercising outdoors, conservation work or being around animals can have lots of positive effects. By increasing participation and awareness, nature-based initiatives have the potential to address health inequalities and improve health and wellbeing for individuals as well as to significantly reduce public health costs by encouraging healthier communities.

The Nature and Wellbeing sub-group of the Somerset Local Nature Partnership is seeking to improve awareness of the social and economic value of nature-based interventions and to improve access to projects in nature to help boost emotional and physical health needs in our county. The group seeks to form strong partnerships to see how best to work together to promote health and wellbeing through the natural environment, this might also include promoting green-care peer support for health practitioners.

There are so many wonderful projects happening in Somerset. One example is the Nature Connections project led by Kristen Lambert at Somerset Wildlife Trust. The project aims to tackle some of the barriers that prevent people experiencing the health and wellbeing benefits of Somerset’s spectacular natural environment.

To find out more about the green prescribing activities that are already happening in Somerset please visit this map. If you have green prescribing projects that you would like us to know about or you want to get involved in the conversation, we would love to hear from you! sophie.burns@somersetwildlife.org.

We also suggest having a look at the Get Outside website Home Page – Get outside in Somerset for all kinds of outdoor activities that are happening around Somerset. ” – Sophie Burns, Somerset Wildlife Trust