Green spaces do wonders for your mental health

Green spaces do wonders for your mental health

Getting out in the fresh air in green spaces boasts numerous benefits for mental health.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week and this year the theme is nature.

Green spaces are good for mental health. People who spend at least two hours a week in nature experience better health and higher psychological wellbeing than those who do not visit nature at all during an average week.

When surrounded by trees and green space blood pressure and stress levels decrease, whilst trees have been found to enhance mood and improve self-esteem.

Oxford Health have over 80 hectares of green spaces which is equivalent to 150 football pitches. These include bee-friendly wildflower borders and meadows.

The 150 Oxford Health sites across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire and parts of Somerset are home to 800 trees, absorbing over 16 tons of carbon annually – helping to offset the Trust’s overall carbon footprint.  The trees, which include birch, sycamore and oak are home to a variety of birds and insects.

Oxford Health Charity’s Green Spaces appeal, working with Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and the Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership as part of the Green Spaces framework, allows staff and patients to enjoy a variety of peaceful and therapeutic green spaces across our sites.

The appeal works with volunteers, community and patient groups and staff to identify ways in which green spaces can be developed. From the Warneford Hospital and Littlemore Mental Health Centre Meadows, to bee borders at the Whiteleaf Centre and a Peace and Tranquillity Garden at Abingdon Community Hospital, there are plenty of opportunities to take a moment with nature.

The hospital gardens are acknowledged for reducing stress and provide a peaceful environment for patient with a relaxed setting for visitor interactions.

John Upham, Sustainability Manager, said: “Oxford Health appreciates the value of green spaces – our 80 hectares is continually growing with new additions such as a tiny forest at our Littlemore site coming soon.

“During Mental Health Awareness Week, we would encourage everyone to enjoy the green spaces around them, whilst following current COVID-19 guidelines. Green spaces can help so many reduce their anxiety and stress levels.”

Julie Pink, Head of Charity and Community Involvement commented: “After the success of the Abingdon Garden and other green spaces projects across the trust, we have hopes to support Green Spaces developments at a number of different sites over the coming year.

“The projects range from sprucing up planting and decorations at a Community Hospital, revamping outdoor space for young people at CAMHS units, making sensory gardens to aid patients with dementia and creating an outdoor gym.

“But we need your help to make all these dreams come to life – please support our Green Spaces Appeal by making a donation, giving your time or gifting us some plants.”

Anne Clark is the Partnership Manager at The Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership, who bring together six local mental health organisations from the NHS and the charity sector: Connection Support, Elmore Community Services, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Oxfordshire Mind, Response and Restore. By working closely with each other, it makes it easier for people who have mental health problems to get the best support when they need it. Anne added, “Nature has a huge impact on mental health and improving the wellbeing of patients.

“The Oxford Health Charity’s Green Spaces appeal supports the development of green spaces across sites and has a huge impact on patient recovery and overall mood. By offering green spaces it gives patients a relaxing environment, to feel calm, improve attention, memory and emotion regulation.”

Find out more about the Oxford Health Charity’s Green Spaces appeal here.

Published: 14 May 2021