Here at BearMade, we’re big on promoting the mental health benefits of getting outside (read more here). We’re constantly in pursuit of the next nature fix; whether it’s running streams, frosty fields, wild deer or even the local livestock.
Turning to nature for physical and mental help is not a new concept. For thousands of years, people around the world have relied on the environment. Ancient civilisations harnessed the healing power of water (eg. the Roman baths), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia continue to use 60000 year old bush medicine remedies and more recently, shinrin-yoku or forest bathing in Japan has been encouraged to help with tech-burnout.
Relatively speaking, science has only recently proved centuries of intuition - nature is good for us. Thankfully, medical professionals have started to prescribe nature to help physical and mental conditions:
- During the late 1990’s, New Zealand introduced the Green Prescription program, which is currently being explored in Australia
- In 2013, doctors in the United States started prescribing parks during the routine delivery of healthcare
- In 2016, the concept of prescribing nature in the United Kingdom was thrown around after a joint study with The Wildlife Trusts and The University of Essex proved the importance of nature-based interventions to treat diagnosed illnesses
- In 2017-18, National Health Service (NHS) Shetland teamed up with RSPB Scotland to prescribe connections with nature, including a calendar of monthly recommendations
- Last month, GPs at five practices in Edinburgh have commenced a five-month trial of nature prescriptions
Emerging research from COVID-induced lockdowns has highlighted humanities growing appreciation of green spaces and wildlife and stressed the importance of nature for mental health and wellbeing.
With a reliance on nature to not only survive, but thrive - it’s never been more important to look after the environment, so it can look after us.
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