Gardening is great for our mental health: there is now significant research evidence that gardening is one of the best, and most accessible, ‘green care’ therapies for supporting and improving mental health. Anyone who looks after their own garden or allotment could have told us that a long time ago but the breakthrough in this research is to show how green therapies can benefit anyone. It Is not just the case that people who like gardening anyway find it a good way to unwind.
The benefits from gardening for mental health include a reduction in depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms and increased self-esteem and confidence, social contact and inclusion; as well as a sense of belonging and personal achievement. The joy of gardening is that it is so flexible and some form of gardening will be familiar to people from almost any background. There is more about this on my blog post Gardening for Wellbeing
How I can help
Of course, the mental health arena is very diverse and even Social and Therapeutic Horticulture encompasses widely differing client groups and practitioners. I have focused my study and subsequent practical work on those with mild to moderate mental health support needs and people at risk of declining mental health, for example from social isolation or dementia. I am not clinically trained to support severe mental health needs but there are great organisations who can help you in this and I may be able to point you in the right direction.
I can design and deliver year round gardening programmes for hospices, residential homes including dementia care, mental health charities and community groups. I can run a pilot of 6 sessions at the end of which we will jointly evaluate the outcomes and you can decide if and how to go ahead with a longer term project.
A programme does not need an acre of walled garden, sheds and greenhouses and the therapists or volunteers to go with it. If you have such wonderful facilities, then full advantage can be taken appropriate to the participants’ abilities. But a weekly drop in session, each self-contained, seated at tables and using containers for planting is equally valuable, and is certainly more accessible for many organisations.
With experience as an adult tutor I can train staff or volunteers to run a gardening programme in-house and to develop it as time goes by.
Talks and workshops
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I just love to talk about gardening and introducing more people to the joys and benefits of this great activity. As well as my general gardening talks I offer an introduction to gardening for mental health that can be tailored in length and content to your particular audience. This could make an ideal event to raise awareness or funds for a garden therapy project or school or community garden.
Contact me to discuss how I can help.
In 2017 I tutored short courses for the Kent Adult Education service Community Learning for Mental Health programme called “Learning Well”. This programme was shortlisted for the Tes FE Awards 2018 and on February 23rd I was delighted to be one of the team who attended the awards dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. See the story here.
I was also delighted to be nominated in the 2018 Festival of Learning for my teaching on the Learning Well programme. I ran a series of short gardening courses for people who have not previously accessed Adult Education services and I worked with groups ranging from a mental health support group who meet regularly to a housing association new community garden project. 2018 Festival of Learning Nominated Tutor
What People say
Following a morning with a Dementia Peer Support Group making ‘no-glue’ collages from leaves, flowers & petals that I photograph and print out for the participants:
“Thank you so much for the uplifting and interesting flower talk and art work you did with the Peer Support Group last Thursday.”
“It gets you all motivated”
“Surprising. Everybody produced really beautiful pictures”“Brings out your artistic side”
“Very calming and relaxing”
Gardening is so good for our mental wellbeing and this is very important for people living with dementia. Here is one of the beautiful pictures: