During this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week we have focused on personal stories of recovery from participants on the Wellbeing Programme.

The programme offers those with mental health conditions an alternative method to recovery involving therapy through nature. Our methods are backed by research which show that outdoor activity can have beneficial effects on body and mind.

We also apply the ‘Wheel of Wellbeing’ model, developed by the mental health team at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and creative company Uscreates, to address the six areas of our lives – Body, Mind, Spirit, People, Place and Planet – where we can make improvements so that we can live more fulfilling lives, mentally, physically and emotionally.

All of the activities offered on the Wellbeing Programme address these six areas, but you don’t need to be on the programme to start making changes in your own life, to live better and thrive with good mental health.

Six ways to wellbeing

BODY: Be Active

All of the activities on the programme involve being active. Whether it’s physical conservation work involving coppicing, pruning, meadow clearing or hedge-laying, or a guided nature walk or craft activity. All of the tasks get the body moving, and as we all know, exercise makes us feel happier and healthier.

MIND: Keep Learning

Getting involved in the activities means learning new skills – from learning how to coppice to learning why we coppice and what the benefits are for wildlife, to learning a new craft, like whittling or charcoal making, or identifying species on a nature walk. Learning new skills and gaining knowledge keeps the mind active and healthy.

SPIRIT: Give

We all know the saying, “it’s better to give than receive’ - and this is just what the Wellbeing Programme does. Giving time to nature – carrying out work that will benefit our local wildlife and the local communities. Giving time to the group – working as a team to get jobs done. Giving time to each other – spending time chatting and getting to know each other and enjoying each others company.

PEOPLE: Connect

The programme gives participants the opportunity to come together as a group in a safe and supportive environment where they can built relationships and develop friendships.

PLACE: Take Notice

Activities on the programme – whether conservation tasks, guided walks or crafts – vary with the seasons, encouraging participants to take notice of the changes that are taking place throughout the year. Occasionally groups also get involved in mindfulness exercises and sensory activities to encourage them to take notice of their surroundings.

PLANET: Care for the Planet

All of the activities feed into caring for our planet: conservation work will have a direct impact on local habitats and wildlife; growing vegetables will encourage participants to think about where food comes from and how far it’s had to travel; litter picking will help clean up the local environment; recycling and composting will encourage participants to think carefully about waste; nature-based crafts show participants how beautiful objects can be made using natural materials – all of it feeds into how we can live our lives more in tune with nature.

Get more information on the ‘Wheel of Wellbeing' and other ideas on how you can make positive changes in your life.

Get in Touch

If you feel you would benefit from joining the programme, or know someone who might benefit, please get in touch with us. We run groups in Wiltshire and Swindon. Call the office on 01380 736 098 or email us for more information.