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How can inclusive green spaces help with positive mental health?

On World Mental Health Day 2018, Young Green Ambassador, Sadie asks how outdoor activities that may aid people’s positive mental health can be more actively promoted, especially to younger people in light of learnings from our recent #InclusiveSpaces campaign.

I’m not your average 25 year old.

I have complex health issues, and I also have mental health issues. I’m a believer that the outdoor space around me has aided my recovery from mental health challenges and contributed to my ongoing recovery. I do a lot of climbing, and I used to be an outdoor activities volunteer, going Kayaking and Bell-boating. At that time I was getting stressed about leaving home for the first time, about to attempt my first stint at full time University, sadly it wasn’t to be as my mental and physical health got the better of me, but I can say at least I tried.

In 2019, I am aiming for my second stint at full time University, this time, studying Politics and International Relations at UWE in Bristol. I am aiming to do better, as I can make a difference whilst studying, as I am studying on how to make a difference effectively, whether it be with making spaces more inclusive spaces or with mental health.

Over the last few months, up and down the country, Young Groundwork board members and Green ambassadors have embarked on a week of activity celebrating the ‘inclusive spaces’ idea. The question is, how can inclusive and green spaces help with positive mental health?

Outdoor activities that may aid people’s positive mental health can include green gyms, outdoor swimming and walking. It gives people a feeling that they’ve achieved something, and in doing so, it makes them feel good about themselves, knowing that they’ve achieved their goals and aims.

Getting people, no matter how young or old, out in the open has a positive impact on mental health. During the Groundwork week of action Young Green Ambassadors created intergenerational activities with this in mind. Intergenerational action breaks any boundaries around young and old people socialising in their local communities - not only can social mixing aid an elderly person in their recovery and improve their quality of life, it can give a young person a feeling of pride and achievement in the process.  

Luciana Berger MP, the campaign lead for the Labour campaign for Mental Health, and the Labour and Co-Operative MP for Liverpool Wavertree has been vocal on the Government Green paper that was released in response to Children and Young People’s mental health. In our current generation, where a large proportion of mental health issues are diagnosed before the age of 14, ensuring outdoor spaces are more inclusive will have positive effects for all members of our local communities.

 Sadie Trent is a member of the Groundwork Youth Advisory Board and is based in Bridgewater.
World Mental Health Day is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.

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