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Now a Green Agenda for Mental Health

A UK-based organization calls for recognition of ecotherapy as a clinically-valid frontline treatment for mental health problems and says there is enough evidence to show the therapy is effective.

Mind, a leading UK-based charity, is seeking to set a green agenda for mental health. It has released a report saying that 71 per cent report depression decrease after green walk, 22 per cent report depression increase after urban walk.

Backed by growing evidence to show that ecotherapy is effective, the organization is suggesting that ecotherapy be recognized as a clinically-valid frontline treatment for mental health problems.

Ecotherapy involves getting outdoors and getting active in a green environment as a way of boosting mental wellbeing. Whether it's taking regular walks in the park, flying a kite or participating in a gardening therapy project, green exercise is proven to have huge benefits for mental health.

The prescription of care farms as a treatment for mental distress has been highly successful on the continent but the UK is lagging far behind Europe there are only 43 care farms in the UK, none of which are directed at mental health, compared to 600 in the Netherlands and 400 in Norway, Mind says.

Minds report presents the findings of the first ever study looking at how green exercise specifically affects people with mental health problems. A walk in a country park was compared with a walk in an indoor shopping centre. The results are startling:

* 71 per cent reported decreased levels of depression after the green walk
* 22 per cent felt their depression increased after walking through an indoor shopping centre and only 45 per cent experienced a decrease in depression
* 71 per cent said they felt less tense after the green walk
* 50 per cent said their feelings of tension had increased after the shopping centre walk
* 90 per cent had increased self-esteem after the
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