Green Walking in mental health recovery

Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery aims to promote and improve access to green spaces for general adult psychiatric inpatients. It is funded by a grant from the Network for Social Change and delivered by CSH in partnership with the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

People with severe mental health conditions face impacts on their physical and mental health but also the effects of discrimination. As inpatients, their care may involve involuntary hospitalisations for extended periods often under circumstances with limited access to the natural world. Walking groups can be an achievable means for wards and hospitals to provide their inpatients with the benefits of spending time in green spaces. 

Within the environment of an inpatient ward, walking groups require a relatively small amount of preparatory infrastructure and cost. Moreover, they incorporate the benefits of physical activity into flexible experiences which can accommodate and reflect a range of choices and care-needs. A walk through a green space can be transformed to include elements of photography and other arts, mindful practice, a closer study of nature and of course the company of others. Their relative simplicity helps to create the much-needed space where patients and staff can focus on collaborative care models. 

Over the course of 2018-20, the Green Walking initiative has:

Download the Guide to Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery

  • Created the PDF icon Guide for Green Walking in Mental Health Recoverya 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:
  • Established Green Beacon Sites: we have worked closely with a number of mental health trusts to establish new green space walking groups. These projects have helped to identify barriers to best practice, promote the importance of green spaces for mental health and directly inform recommendations in the guide. 
  • Promoted pre-existing evidence and good practice: through conferences, disseminating case studies, and new publications, Green Walking is increasing the awareness of the value of walking in green spaces while bringing attention to the excellent work already happening in NHS mental health trusts.  
  • Formed a collaborative network: understanding that, at its best, the delivery of mental health care reflects input from patients and a wide range of professionals, Green Walking is developing a supportive and collaborative network of key stakeholders.

This project works on many levels. It emphasises the value of exposure to the natural world for supporting well-being and seeks to identify barriers preventing greater access to green spaces. It also builds resources and pilot projects/case studies to empower the health service to overcome pre-existing challenges that prevent the integration of green spaces into standard models of inpatient care.  

We very much appreciate your interest in Green Walking and welcome any effort in promoting this work within your work and community. Should you have any interest in becoming involved or would like to know more please get in touch

Register your inpatient green walking group

We are currently setting up a register of Green Walking groups in mental health inpatient settings and hope to have a web form for you to fill out soon. In the meantime, to register your walk, please email us with the name of your organisation and unit, how often your walks take place and who they are open to.

Green Beacon Site Case Studies 2019

We are delighted to have worked with exceptional teams to establish new walking groups at the following eight mental health Trusts:

Thank you to Ian Palmeri for help in compiling the Green Beacon case studies.

Green Walking Project Case Studies 2018

Thank you to Mary Nguyen for help in putting together these case studies.

Guide, recording and presentations from the launch event on 20 May 2020