GPs to 'prescribe nature' for mental health issues after groundbreaking Leeds research
A new report from Leeds Beckett University has suggested that GPs should 'prescribe nature' to people with poor mental health.
The research, carried out for The Wildlife Trusts, found that prescribing contact with nature to people with poor mental health would improve their wellbeing and ease the burden on the NHS.
People experiencing problems, such as anxiety, stress and depression, reported feeling significantly better, both emotionally and physically, after taking part in outdoor nature conservation projects.
Such activities were also found to have a significant social value and save money.
-> Leeds company is behind new Wetherspoon vegan fake meat burgerThe report found for every £1 invested in specialised health or social needs projects that connect people to nature, there is a £6.88 social return.
It also calculated there is an £8.50 social return for every £1 invested in regular nature volunteering projects, which help create healthy lifestyles by tackling problems such as physical inactivity or loneliness.
The report has led to calls for more investment so that nature-based services can become more widespread.
Dom Higgins, nature and wellbeing manager at The Wildlife Trusts, said: "We want to see the concept of nature on prescription becoming a core part of the NHS mental well-being programmes.
"This new report shows the enormous value of a natural health service. It's also important to have more investment in Wildlife Trust outdoor volunteering which has been proven to improve mental, physical and social wellbeing.
"In addition, we need many more wild, natural places near to where people live and work. That way, green prescribing can be rolled-out everywhere.
"This would help the NHS save money, as well as help nature to recover."
Dr Amir Khan, a GP and health ambassador for The Wildlife Trusts, added: "There is a clear need to invest in nature-based services so that more people can benefit.
"If more people could access nature programmes, I believe that we would see a knock-on effect in our GP surgeries, with fewer people attending for help with preventable or social problems arising from being cut off from others, not getting active or having a purpose."