News Growing Health

New report links volunteering in nature with better mental health

An independent evaluation of the health benefits of volunteering with the Wildlife Trusts, by researchers at The School of Biological Sciences at the University of Essex has found that the mental wellbeing of participants improved to a statistically significant effect over a 12-week period.

The research found:

  • 95% of participants with low wellbeing at baseline reported an improvement at 6 weeks
  • Participants with low wellbeing at baseline reported a 30% improvement in wellbeing score in 12 weeks

The impacts were particularly pronounced in those volunteering with The Wildlife Trusts for the first time, and those that started with low wellbeing scores. There is huge potential for the movement to have an almost immediate and positive impact on people who live their lives away from nature and who have poor mental health, and so are often the most inactive amongst us.

In a recent piece in The Guardian, Professor John Middleton, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said:  “It is a great step forward that this research has now shown some of the benefits. Authorities should look to develop such schemes – it is cheaper than medication and social care, and the improvements to the environment made by volunteers also give us a lasting legacy for the community.”

This adds to the growing body of evidence that the Growing Health campaign has been collecting to show how food growing projects are providing positive health outcomes for their volunteeres.  Read the Wildlife Trust report here.

Find out more about our work on Growing Health here.

Published Monday 16 October 2017

Growing Health: Growing Health is a national project run by Garden Organic and Sustain, which is funded by the Tudor Trust, to see how community food growing can be routinely used by the health and social care services as a way of promoting health and wellbeing for a range of individuals and population groups.

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