Natalie Scales from Community Housing and Therapy on the benefits of outdoor space for our mental health
There is much evidence that gardens enhance mental health. Through nature, all our senses are engaged with the environment, which helps reduce anxiety and, therefore, levels of stress.
Community Housing and Therapy (CHT) is one of a handful of organisations in the country providing housing with integrated therapy and therapeutic activities for people experiencing mental health problems. We provide care, support and psychotherapy within residential accommodation, in which the living environment itself is therapeutic, to enable beneficiaries to engage with society in a way they find fulfilling.
We know that gardens can be a critical part of mental health care, so we’re pleased to announce we have been awarded a grant of £9,885 from the National Lottery’s Big Lottery Awards for All fund to purchase a garden room at Highams Lodge, our centre in Waltham Forest. This additional space will enable our beneficiaries to enjoy the garden more in all weathers and provide valuable additional space for therapeutic activities.
Research on gardening groups for mental health patients found that gardening has two key benefits; the first involves benefits of enhanced mood, reduced arousal and improved concentration; the second is the social nature of the group – the need to co-operate with each other to achieve the end goal.
The garden room will help to improve the quality of our beneficiaries’ lives and mental health greatly, through increased contact with the outdoors and nature, supporting the charity’s aims of giving people a life changing experience. The room will be built in March and is part of a bigger task of transforming an underused and undeveloped garden into a therapeutic space which will provide a multi-sensory experience for our beneficiaries residing at Highams Lodge.
CHT is continuing to raise funds for the landscaping of the garden space and local residents can support this by donating or volunteering time to help in the garden.
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