WATCH NOW: Health Matters: Connecting with Nature

Get inspired to connect with nature, get involved in our Green Spaces and pick up ideas for nature-based therapeutic practice

WATCH NOW: Health Matters: Connecting with Nature

If you missed the live event Health Matters: Connecting with Nature, the recording is now available on YouTube. Our brilliant line-up of speakers give you an inspiring 45 minutes, all aligned with the Mental Health Awareness Week. You’ll hear about some of the initiatives Oxford Health has for protecting our environment, bringing nature into therapeutic practice, helping people enjoy outdoors and get involved – in short: to connect with nature.

Trust Chair David Walker opened the event with his thoughts on mental health and our connection to nature. He also stressed our obligation as a mental health trust to become more sustainable. David said:

“Clearly there is an indelible relationship between people’s wellbeing and the wellbeing of the planet we inhabit. Our mental health in the widest sense depends upon the health of  the land, the sky, the air that we live in. Being a mental health trust gives us a special obligation and opportunity to become more sustainable.”

Sustainability manager John Upham spoke about Oxford Health’s Green Plan, the work the trust is already doing and what’s coming.

“We have partnered with the NHS Forest in order to improve health and wellbeing of our patients and staff by encouraging access to green spaces. The trust has an ‘estate’ in excess of 800 trees, an area equivalent to 150 football pitches with over 35 species of trees, from beach through to yew, providing welcome shelter from the rain and the sun and absorbing over 16 tons of carbon annually.”

“Further areas of interest include the planting of the bumblebee border at the Whiteleaf Center which contains a variety of flowers, including lavender, with a wonderful scent and colour to attract bees.”

John also talked about futher plans for tiny forests, Oxford Health Green Champions – and what walking outdoors meant to him during the lockdown.

Dr Catriona Mellor, Specialty Doctor and Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at the Marlborough House in Swindon, told about the Families in the Wild project, run in collaboration with the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. Catriona said:

“Our work is around how to weave nature-based practice and thinking into tier four child and adolescent mental health work. I think a lot of what I speak about could be relevant to any clinical setting with a few tweaks. My hope is that by showcasing a few examples we’ve tried we can promote further conversation and inspire others.”

The Covid pandemic has forced Catriona’s team to postpone many outings but her enthusiasm is not dented, quite the opposite:

 “I think we all know it, but it’s hard to believe how good it is until you’ve actually been outdoors with a group of people from work and experienced the smiles on people’s faces,” she said.

“We had a pilot day just before the lockdown, so we all have these beautiful memories of this sort of shiny day together in the woodland by the lake. It really carried us through. On many, many levels this work can be really restorative as well as challenging.”

Head of Charity and Community Involvement Julie Pink spoke about Oxford Health Charity’s Green Appeal which is bringing boundless joy to patients, staff and the volunteer gardeners who do the planting, weeding, pruning – in short, create and maintain the Green Spaces.

Julie said:

“Our Charity is here to support and enhance the experience of patients within the trust, and Green Spaces is a really big part of that. The Charity can support projects big and small. It can range from just providing seeds and plants to enhance the space all the way to actually developing a [whole] garden like we have done in Abingdon. Those gardens make such a difference to staff and to patients.”

Julie added:

“The green spaces appeal is live at the moment and we’re always happy to hear from people.”

If you’d like to get involved, head on to Oxford Health Charity volunteering opportunities.

You can also contribute to Green Spaces Appeal here.

Health Matters in June: Learning Disability Week

The next Health Matters webinar will focus on Learning Disability Week. The programme is currently being planned but the date is already set: Tuesday, June 22 at 12:30pm.

Become a member of Oxford Health to get the invitation straight to your inbox. Sign up here.

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Published: 13 May 2021