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Green Therapy: Case Studies

Your stories

We’ve collated some inspiring stories where green therapy has had a really positive effect on their wellbeing. 

“I am doing very well these days, but for a long time, I had very serious problems with anxiety and depression, wherein I couldn't leave my house and had even attempted suicide. As I started with conventional therapy and medication, I also started gardening on an allotment where I lived. Truly, I think the garden saved me. It was light and life in a very low pressure way, where I didn't have to talk much to anyone, and could still enjoy it on low energy days or when I felt I was struggling. I have now moved back to America, where I'm from, and live in a rented place without access to a garden, and I notice the difference in my mood. (And my diet.) Now I have an exercise bike and while it's helpful, the garden was better. So glad to see someone studying this - I think it is underutilized. Cheers!”

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Jill

Watch Jill talking about how she has boosted her physical wellbeing and learnt new skills by volunteering at a TCV Green Gym in Regent's Park:

Thanks to Mind for this incredible story.

Kate

Here’s Kate’s story showing the simple, therapeutic power of nature.

“I started volunteering with Oasis in March 2016, seeing it as a way to meet people and reduce the isolation of working from home with my fledgling design business. The regular gardening sessions provide structure and inspiration as I love nature, being in the fresh air and exercise.

Among the numerous tasks involved with gardening, I have made a path in the polytunnels with woodchips, providing a dry and clean floor, and sown seeds and vegetables such as carrots and parsnips. 

I have helped with the inevitable watering and also planted out some flowers, dug up leeks and harvested salad leaves for sale on the barrow outside the Health Authority building.

Oasis has helped me feel more positive, after several episodes of clinical depression.

A lot of my issues were to do with the fact I’d worked incredibly hard to get good grades at school and university and upon graduation the only job I could get locally was a poorly paid menial job which was incredibly soul destroying. 

I found some more suitable work in schools then trained to be a teacher, which was much more interesting and rewarding.

Unfortunately, the stress of that job meant that the depression returned and after qualifying I realised I couldn’t work as a teacher and maintain my health. After several major depressive episodes in my twenties I took time out to recover, had several courses of treatment of CBT (where I was also diagnosed with OCD).

I moved my focus to what made me feel better such as walking, being in nature, exercising and I also had art therapy at Mind. It was here that I remembered how much I loved drawing and painting and I took my art work to a local college and enrolled on an Art Foundation diploma.

I passed with distinction, specialising in printed textile design and last year set up my business with support from The Prince’s Trust and the Printing Charity.

I am still finding my feet with my business but I am hoping to find success with it because it makes me happy. I feel like I’ve finally found work I enjoy that also allows me to maintain positive mental health.

The project has helped me learn new skills, and I’ve even been able to pass these on to other volunteers. There’s something very satisfying about gardening. I felt great after digging up four beds for carrots – much better than I’d have been at home on the computer. There’s a simple, but therapeutic power to nature and gardening.”

Valerie

Valerie wasn’t referred to Oasis in the first for her mental health, but she soon saw huge benefits. 

“I found out about Oasis while doing a search online for volunteering and gardening. I had just moved to Sheffield and was looking for places to volunteer so I could meet people and learn new skills while I decided on what I wanted to do for a job.

I didn’t actually know that Oasis was a group for people living with mental health conditions until after I started and Tim, one of the people who runs the sessions, explained to me what the group was all about. 

Even though I wasn’t referred to the group for a mental health condition, it was helpful for me in many ways. I was previously in the army in the USA and have been a bit anxious since that experience. I had been managing it well the years following counselling from the army but add on moving to a new country and a new city, it is a bit overwhelming.

People just communicate differently to what I’m used to and I found myself over-thinking a lot of conversations and situations. I also found it is not really acceptable to talk openly about your mental health. The conversations are ignored or they might treat you differently which is difficult because talking it out is a great way of working through it. If I was feeling down or having a repetitive thought I often felt like I had no one to talk to.

While volunteering at Oasis I felt that it was a safe environment and I felt comfortable there. I actually started to notice my thought process change when it came to talking to people, especially new people.  

I stopped analysing conversations to death trying to figure out if they meant something different or if I said something the wrong way.

Oasis has created an environment where people feel included, important, and cared for. The stigma around mental health often leaves people feeling the opposite. I feel more confident now after volunteering at Oasis. Because it was possible for me to be cared for and part of a group there, I stopped thinking I automatically deserved not to be everywhere else.

I really enjoyed all the different gardening tasks it took to run a large garden. It was fun to learn how to grow and take care of the plants. I’ve never been real successful with plants so it was really satisfying to plant a seed and watch it grow week to week and eventually produce vegetables. When I buy a house the first thing I want to do is make a little kale garden!”

 Thanks for Sheffield Flourish for these incredible stories.

Sheffield Flourish is a charity which works collaboratively on innovative digital and community projects, recognising the untapped strengths of people who have experienced mental health challenges. 

Oasis is a mental health friendly gardening and food growing enterprise, welcoming people from all walks of life. Anyone is welcome to go along to their weekly food growing sessions, and you don’t need to have any experience of gardening or food growing. It’s a mental health friendly space where you can sit down for a cuppa and a chat.

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