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There is increasing evidence of the benefits of nature for mental health and wellbeing. A recent pilot wetlands project showed that people diagnosed with anxiety or depression moved up a clinical mental health grade, from below average to average.

Now a scheme will start this summer at the WWT London Wetland Centre in the UK with six-week wetlands courses co-designed by the WWT, the Mental Health Foundation and participants themselves. Activities could include birdwatching, pond dipping, nature walks and habitat protection work.

Participants’ travel costs are to be funded and their progress assessed using standard medical questionnaires.

YouGov polling for the Mental Health Foundation found that being near lakes, rivers and the sea – ahead of time spent in gardens, parks and the countryside – was rated the highest by people in terms of having a positive impact on their mental health.

Using nature as a therapy is part of a wider movement of social prescribing, where exercise, social activities, home improvements and other interventions are used as effective and often inexpensive treatments.

Source: The Guardian