A walk in the country is an effective alternative to chemical anti-depression treatment, a leading mental health charity said Monday, calling on British doctors to prescribe outdoor activities.
The Mind charity said so-called "ecotherapy" could help millions
of people with mental health problems after two studies it
commissioned suggested it could have significant benefits for
sufferers in most cases.
Prescription of care farms as a treatment has been highly
successful on mainland Europe, but Britain has failed to follow the
example, it added as it launched a report "Ecotherapy: the green
agenda for mental health."
Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said: "Mind sees ecotherapy as
an important part of the future for mental health.
A credible treatment
Researchers from the University of Essex, eastern England,
studied the effect of a 30-minute walk in a country park compared
with one in an indoor shopping centre on a small sample of 20
people with mental health problems.
"It's a credible, clinically-valid treatment option and needs to
be prescribed by GPs, especially when for many people access to
treatments other than anti-depressants is extremely limited."
It found that 71 percent reported decreased levels of depression
and anxiety after the outdoor walk while 90 percent said their
This compared with 22 percent who said their stress levels
increased, 50 percent who felt more tense and 44 percent whose
self-esteem plummeted while indoors.
Green exercise boosts mood
A second study of 108 people with mental health problems
suggested nearly all (94 percent) found "green exercise" boosted
their state of mind.
Mind said prescriptions of anti-depressants were at an all-time
high, with more than 31 million written last year in the UK - a six percent
increase from the previous 12 months - because doctors had no
In particular, prescriptions of drugs such as Prozac have risen
by 10 percent. Cheap ecotherapies could cut costs as they were
readily available and had no negative side effects. – (Sapa-AFP)
Enviro health Centre