Guide for Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery

guide for green walking in mental health recovery

The Green Walking initiative began in 2018 with the mission to provide respite and healing to people receiving inpatient psychiatric care through walking together in nature. It has been funded by a grant from the Network for Social Change and delivered by the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare in partnership with the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and endorsed by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists.

The initiative builds on a significant existing body of evidence that establishes the health benefits of greenspace and of walking and recognises that many healthcare professionals are already hugely supportive of this type of activity and have been championing it for decades.

Green walking is about moving through a natural space. This simple act brings multiple benefits to physical, social and mental health. It can improve patients’ progress during hospitalisation and their recovery and rehabilitation. It is also great for staff. These walks are easy to establish, safe and cheap. 

guide for green walking in mental health recoveryThe Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery Guide is to support people in mental health inpatient settings to start a walking group. The work is based on pilots in eight Green Beacon sites in the English NHS in 2019, funded by the Network for Social Change. 

Download the Guide for Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery here.


2019 Green Beacon sites

Trusts were chosen to represent a range of rural and urban locations. Committing to arrange one walk per week on an adult inpatient unit, each site was supported to organise its programme independently. Regular assessments focused on understanding the various enablers and barriers to the establishment and maintenance of the new walking groups. 

At the end of the assessment period many interesting themes emerged. Participating sites found walks to be safe, well received and requiring minimal resources. At some sites the walks raised interest within the host Trust, leading to their uptake in other wards. Many of the sites continued the walks after the end of the assessment. 

Green Walking Guide Launch Webinar

This event launched the Guide for Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery. Hear from:

  • Dr Adrian James - Opening the event and welcome from RCPsych
  • Dr Frances Mortimer - Introducing CSH and Green Walking
  • Prof Catharine Ward Thompson - Keynote Speech
  • Dr Geraldine Strathdee - Keynote Speech
  • Dr Jacob Krzanowski - Green Walking Guide summary presentation 
  • John Galvin & Julia Delahaye - Learning from Green Beacon Sites

Get involved

The initiative will continue to promote and support walking in green spaces in the care of people with severe mental illness, to aid their recovery and rehabilitation. If your organisation would like to partner with us on this journey, we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch!

Learn more