Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery
Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery is a project that aims to promote and improve access to green spaces for adult psychiatric inpatients.
People with severe mental health conditions face impacts on their physical and mental health as well as discrimination. As inpatients, their care may involve involuntary hospitalisations for extended periods, often under circumstances which limit their 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 surrounded by nature.
I just enjoyed being able to walk and talk and not see myself as a patient, doing something that is very normal and peaceful.Patient South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
Time off the ward to enjoy fresh air and have a leisurely walk helps to clear my head when I am struggling.Patient Guild Lodge, Lancashire
Walking groups require a relatively small amount of infrastructure and cost. Moreover, they incorporate gentle physical activity into activities which are flexible enough to accommodate a range of choices and care-needs. A walk through a garden or meadow can include elements of photography and other arts, mindful practice, a closer study of nature and of course the company of others. The relative simplicity of walking helps to create a much-needed space where patients and staff can focus on collaborative care models.
The project is funded by the Network for Social Change and delivered by the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare (CSH) in partnership with the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Between 2018-20, the Green Walking initiative:
- Created the Guide for Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery: This guide helps health professionals start new walking groups within their wards. It summarises relevant evidence as well as representing perspectives from patients and a wide range of health staff.
- Established Green Beacon Sites: We worked closely with several mental health trusts to establish new green space walking groups. These projects 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, case studies, and new publications, Green Walking is increasing the awareness of the value of walking in green space while bringing attention to the excellent work already happening in NHS mental health trusts.
- Formed a collaborative network: At its best, the delivery of mental health care reflects input from patients and a wide range of professionals. CSH provides a supportive and collaborative network of key stakeholders.
Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery works on many levels. It emphasises the benefits of nature in supporting wellbeing and identifies barriers preventing greater access to green space. It also builds resources and pilot projects/case studies to enable the NHS to integrate green space into standard models of inpatient care and to overcome the challenges to this.
The walks were memorable for the conversations and good company. It was a good time to talk with people with little of the healthcare professional-patient divide.Edward Lewis, occupational therapist Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust
I noticed a theme of a sense of normality – we appeared a group of friends walking around a park. The service users made comments that hinted at this, e.g. ‘this is the type of thing I usually do which is nice’ and ‘I used to have a dog and enjoyed taking him for walks’Occupational therapist Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
CSH welcomes any effort in promoting Green Walking for mental health. If you are interested in becoming involved or would like to know more, please get in touch.
Register your inpatient Green Walking group
We are setting up a register of Green Walking groups in mental health inpatient settings. To register your walk, please email firstname.lastname@example.org 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
In 2019, we worked with exceptional teams to establish new walking groups at eight mental health Trusts:
- Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
- Bradford and District Care NHS Foundation Trust
- 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 NHS Foundation Trust
- Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust
Thank you to Ian Palmeri for help in compiling the Green Beacon case studies.
Green Walking case studies, 2018
- Avon and Wiltshire Partnership NHS Trust
- Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust: Guild Lodge
- Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust: Orchard Unit (now Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust)
- 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 for help in putting together these case studies.
Green Walking guide launch event
The Green Walking guide was launched online on 20 May 2020. Click on the video and links below to watch the launch event and presentations, and to download the full Green Walking guide.
Other videos from the event
- 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
Banner photo: Nick Page, via Unsplash.