TG Escapes Blog
It’s World Mental Health Day on October 10th
The best way to deal with a crisis is to prevent it from happening.
Hosted by the World Federation of Mental Health, this year’s World Mental Health Day will take place on Saturday 10th October and the emphasis will be upon challenging the stigma surrounding mental health problems.
It aims to do this by presenting people with facts in order to promote an understanding of both the causes of and solutions to mental health problems.
At the heart of these “Fundamental Facts” is a focus on prevention, because the best way of dealing with a crisis is to prevent it from happening in the first place. And with 1 in 4 British adults and 1 in 10 children likely to have a mental health problem in any given year, it is a crisis. Furthermore, the World Health Organisation predicts that depression will be the second largest cause of ill health in Western Europe by 2020.
More than 800,000 children and young people in the UK have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. It is estimated that only around a quarter of these are receiving the treatment they need, even though half of lifetime mental illness starts by the age of 14. By providing the right guidance and support in childhood and adolescence, the chances of developing mental health problems later in, and throughout, life can be reduced for millions of people.
Clearly there is much that can be taught about mental ill-health, creating a greater understanding and nurturing a better tolerance of those who suffer from it. However, schools have within their command a simple, yet powerful, preventative tool: exposure to nature.
Being in nature, or even simply viewing nature, reduces anger, fear and stress and distracts us from pain and discomfort. So clear is the link between increased contact with nature and better mental health that in 2007 the charity MIND launched a campaign to incorporate nature into mainstream NHS treatments, under the banner Ecotherapy: The Green Agenda for Mental Health.
Quite simply, being outdoors, lifts our mood, whilst simultaneously stimulating our nervous, endocrine and immune systems. It is good for body, mind and spirit and, in the longer term, continued regular contact with nature brings an increased level of satisfaction with life in general. A recent National Trust survey revealed that 80% of the happiest people in the UK said that they have a strong connection with the natural world, compared with less than 40% of the unhappiest.
Nature is out there and ready to be reaped. Whether you are an urban school with a park around the corner, or are blessed with a rural setting and a nice, big, tree filled field, just take a moment to think about taking your pupils outside next week and reap the rewards that nature gives so freely.
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