A new wellbeing scheme in London, known as Blue Prescribing, will allow up to 300 people experiencing poor mental health and with limited access to water in natural settings the chance to take part in a wetland nature-based health programme.
The initiative, run by WWT London Wetland Centre, has been set up in response to a growing body of evidence that being in nature can reduce psychological stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression and that access to blue and green space is associated with better health outcomes.
A recent YouGov study found that 65% of people find being near water (coast, rivers, lakes and ponds) has a positive impact on their mental health. This was more than any other way to connect with nature.
The Blue Prescribing project will see participants take part in hands-on, nature-based activities in a ‘watery’ natural setting to help improve their mental and physical wellbeing, with the effects of the project being scientifically evaluated.
The scheme, based at London Wetland Centre, will be co-designed between the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), and participants. Activities will build participant’s health, knowledge and confidence in wetland nature and facilitate peer support to enhance social inclusion and resilience. Overall, the aim is to enable people to continue independently exploring nature to improve their long-term mental health.
Dr Jonathan Reeves, Principal Research Officer (Health & Wellbeing) from WWT said: “The Blue Prescribing scheme at London Wetland Centre aims to enable greater access to ‘watery’ wetland nature to those that most need it. The blue and green space found in wetlands seems to be particularly beneficial as demonstrated by today’s MHF research showing that being by water provides the biggest positive impact on people’s mental health compared to all other ways to connect with nature”
The Blue Prescribing scheme will begin this summer and last for a year. Each course runs for six weeks.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living.