Publish date: 13 May 2024

This Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May) we’re highlighting the importance of movement and physical activity in nature, for our mental health.

The Mental Health Foundation, which champions the week, says: “One of the most important things you can do to help protect your mental health is regular movement. Moving more can increase your energy, reduce stress and anxiety, and boost your self-esteem.”

When we think of movement and physical activity, we often picture formal or structured activity, such as sports, gyms and exercise classes. While they offer great opportunities to be physically active and release the feel-good endorphins, we appreciate that engaging in this type of activity may not be for everyone.

Here at AWP we are passionate about the experiences and the benefits that come with getting outside and moving in nature.  

Green Social Prescribing is the practice of supporting people to engage in nature-based activities, to improve mental and physical health. It has been part of the treatment of mental health conditions since the 1800s.

AWP is proud to be part of Healthier with Nature, the Green Social Prescribing Programme for Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire. It aims to empower more people, in particular, those experiencing health inequalities to connect with nature and improve their physical and mental health, while embedding natured-based practice in the health and social care sectors.

Used alongside prescribed medication and treatment programmes, green social prescribing, and in turn movement in nature, can be incredibly effective and life-saving. They bring many opportunities to engage with nature, from walking and gardening to conservation and green gyms , all encouraging people to get outside and move in nature.

At AWP we encourage movement through a variety of gardening and allotment projects, which along with getting service users outside, engages them in activity through digging, planting, and building, along with social interaction, peer to peer support, learning new skills and sharing knowledge.

Mathew Page, Chief Operating Officer, said: “Nature connection can help personal wellbeing in all contexts. In AWP our clinicians are designing and leading programmes where nature is an integral ingredient for people with serious mental health conditions. There are so many opportunities for including nature, at its most simple level it can just be taking an activity outdoors.

"I’d like to encourage everyone to think about including nature in their day to day practice whether that’s directly or referring people onto one of the many excellent programmes on offer from our partners”.

See Green Social Prescribing in action by watching this short video about Green Social Prescribing and some of our allotment projects at AWP. Learn more about Healthier with Nature by visiting the Healthier with Nature website and watch videos of Green Social Prescribing from across the BNSSG region.