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By On May 25th, 2007

Ecotherapy shown to decrease symptoms of depression

A recent study entitled “Ecotherapy: the Green Agenda for Mental Health” published by the Mind group, a mental health charity in the UK, found that walking and other outdoor activities could help to reduce symptoms of depression. Ecotherapy actually embodies a wide range of different activities from walking and gardening to kite flying. Researchers at Mind feel that Ecotherapy should be recognized as a clinically valid treatment for depression and other mental health problems. The study by Mind, which examined 20 volunteers, found that after a walk in the countryside 90% of participants felt a rise in self-esteem and 71% felt less tense and depressed. Participants who were assigned to walk in a shopping center had a 45% decrease in depression, while surprisingly 22% said they felt more depressed. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medical News Today that reviews the study:

“Leading mental health charity Mind today launches a groundbreaking new report (1) which sets a new green agenda for mental health. With a mass of new and growing evidence, Mind calls for ecotherapy to be recognized as a clinically-valid frontline treatment for mental health problems. As 93 per cent of GPs have prescribed drugs due to a lack of alternatives (2) and access to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy takes up to four years in some areas of the UK (3), it is vital that ecotherapy is considered by GPs alongside these as a treatment option.

Ecotherapy involves getting outdoors and getting active in a green environment as a way of boosting mental well-being. Whether it’s taking regular walks in the park, flying a kite or participating in a gardening therapy project, green exercise is proven to have huge benefits for mental health. The prescription of care farms as a treatment for mental distress has been highly successful on the continent but the UK is lagging far behind Europe – there are only 43 care farms in the UK, none of which are directed at mental health, compared to 600 in the Netherlands and 400 in Norway.”

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