Green Walking in mental health recovery
Download the Guide for green walking in mental health recovery
Problem areas in psychiatric care:
- Acute psychiatric wards can be minimally therapeutic environments with reduced access to therapeutic activities. More diverse and therapeutic environments are required.
- A shift towards sustainable and holistic models of care is required.
- There is an increasing emphasis on physical health and activity in mental health services, but there can be limited opportunities to support this.
- Unconsidered and excessive use of the Mental Health Act can lead to excessive detention and lack of supported leave.
- Mental health services need to improve in the face of poor funding.
- There can be a lack of collaborative practice across inpatient wards between different professions.
- For psychiatric inpatients, green space access can be overlooked, despite its salutogenic value to support mental health wellbeing and recovery.
- People can experience difficulties with their transition between inpatient and community services upon discharge.
Green walking groups can provide a solution:
Green walking groups can address issues in each of the above problems areas. The groups provide respite and healing to people receiving inpatient psychiatric care through walking together in nature, building on a significant existing body of evidence that has established the health and wellbeing benefits of green spaces and of walking.
Green walking groups can lay the foundation for transformational healthcare policy. Implications of the climate crisis have made it increasingly clear that delivery of effective healthcare by the NHS is not possible without an urgent shift towards sustainable policy and preventative models of health. Walking groups are a known but under-utilised intervention in mental health care which call on the physical and mental health benefits of engagement with green space. Implementation of Green Walking can be delivered as part of the aims of net zero, sustainable healthcare and integrated care policies.
- brings benefits that are both simple (people feel better for having been on a walk) and complex (relationships can improve and the ward can feel calmer).
- Can promote recovery off the ward, helping to shift mental healthcare from detention and crisis solutions towards a sustainable, preventative model.
- can bring people together with their community.
- is an inclusive activity which works to ensure equitable and just access to green space.
- Can help NHS Trusts implement their Green Plans
- is an activity which could be accessible to people once they leave hospital
Green walking groups…
- can be led by ward staff or volunteers
- are an activity for staff and service users to enjoy together
- promote non-restrictive practice
- support the right to access green space
- can be an integral tool in recovery, care and discharge planning.
- can take place in local parks, woodland and walking trails, or in the hospital grounds.
- are easily incorporated into existing ward activity timetables,
- can complement walking groups with social prescribing elements
- can include learning about the natural world and creative activities such as art or photography.
- promote positive relationships and caring ward environments.
About the Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery initiative from the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare:
The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare (CSH) started the Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery initiative in psychiatric hospital setting as inpatients are generally the client group with the least access to green spaces and who as a result benefit from Green Walking the most. CSH are working towards a shift in the mental health paradigm where Green Walking is seen as an integral component of mental health wellbeing and recovery across all mental health settings, from primary care through to acute inpatient services.
To find out more about Green Walking please click on the relevant link below:
How Green Walking started:
In 2018 with funding from the Network for Social Change, CSH recruited teams across eight NHS Mental Health Trusts to run a pilot scheme of new Green Walking groups for inpatients. The wealth of benefits and first-hand knowledge from these Green Beacon Sites informed the writing of Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery: A Guide. The guide was endorsed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Occupational Therapists, Royal College of Nursing and the Maudsley Charity on launch in May 2020.
The Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery initiative continues to promote and support walking in green spaces in the care of people with severe mental illness, to aid their recovery and rehabilitation, through resourcing and supporting NHS trusts to implement Green Walking. The initiative seeks to identify and overcome barriers preventing greater access to the natural world and empower the health service to integrate engagement with green spaces into standard models of inpatient care and beyond into other mental health settings.
Guide for Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery: a resource to help professionals start new groups within their wards, the guide also summarises relevant evidence as well as representing perspectives from patients and a wide range of professionals. Access the presentations from the launch event (on 20 May 2020) below, and download the guide here:
Green Walking Case Studies
- Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
- Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
- Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust
- Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
- South London and Maudsley Foundation Trust
- Tee, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust
- Avon and Wiltshire Partnership NHS Trust
- Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust: Guild Lodge
- Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust: Orchard Unit
- Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
- NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
- South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
- South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Thank you to Mary Nguyen and Ian Palmeri for help in putting together these case studies.
Guide, recording and presentations from the launch event on 20 May 2020
- Link to webinar recording
- Introducing CSH and Green Walking - Dr Frances Mortimer
- Greenspace and health: importance of inclusive access - Prof Catharine Ward Thompson
- Green Walking Guide summary presentation - Dr Jacob Krzanowski
- Guide to Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery (2020)