Mental Health Awareness Week 2021West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (WY&H HCP) is celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May).

This year, the theme is ‘Nature’. Across the country, people will be celebrating the mental health benefits of being at one with nature in their local community in a range of digital and creative ways.

WY&H HCP is funding 10 Green Social Prescribing Projects, which help connect people to nature to improve their mental and physical health.

The projects vary from a “pocket park” to a state-of-the-art urban food growing farm — and involve hospitals, GPs, local authorities, community groups, mental health, and nature-based charities. All projects focus on communities who typically face inequalities in access to nature. Selected in anticipation that they would have a long-term impact in their communities, inspiring others to follow suit and creating a step change across the region.

The Basement Recovery Project is regenerating a disused and neglected piece of land in an area of deprivation into a food growing area, garden and wood workshop for its service users who are in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction and the wider community. The workshop space will be used to host green woodworking classes and projects for their users and any local residents from the surrounding community who are looking to gain new skills and connect with people after time spent in social isolation with large periods of inactivity. They aspire to develop the wood workshop element of the project to further enhance the outdoor space, including bird tables, benches and other outdoor structures.

Stuart Honor, director and founder of The Basement Recovery Project said:

“Quitting drugs or alcohol is only the first step to recovery from addiction. At TBRP we help individuals to build on their personal strengths and to increase individual wellbeing and recovery capital in the life of their community. We use The Five Ways to Wellbeing (5W2W) as a set of realistic, achievable actions that everyone can incorporate into their day-to-day activities to feel happier and more content with their lives.

The land regeneration project ticks all the boxes for the 5W2W allowing individuals to; connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give.

We are looking forward to working on the project and encouraging the wider community to be involved which will enable us to break the stigma for those we support in connecting with others in such a positive way. Connecting with nature and creating beautiful spaces will be fantastic for those we support in their recovery and we hope everyone will be able to see the fruits of their labour as we progress”.

Dr Sara Munro, CEO Lead for WY&H HCP Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Autism; and CEO for Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said:Dr Sara Munro, CEO Lead for WY&H HCP Mental Health

“Our Climate Change Team gathered feedback from a survey on green social prescribing which asked people about their relationship with the local environment, looking at issues such as access to green spaces and nature-based activities. More than 92% of people who responded said they are interested in accessing nature-based activities such as yoga, walking groups and community food growing projects. In response, we have recently funded ten nature-based projects that specifically focus on improving mental health, targeting communities experiencing additional barriers to accessing nature, and expect to do more. I’m looking forward to hearing more about how they all got along”.

One of WY&H HCP’s big ambitions is to become a global leader in responding to the climate emergency through increased mitigation, encouraging people to get closer to nature is a key part of that ambition.

Read the results of the green social prescribing survey here and find out more about WY&H HCP’s work on climate change and mental health on their website.