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Open AccessArticle

Engaging with and Shaping Nature: A Nature-Based Intervention for Those with Mental Health and Behavioural Problems at the Westonbirt Arboretum in England

Forest Research, Social and Economic Research Group, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4LH, UK
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(10), 2214; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102214
Received: 3 August 2018 / Revised: 1 October 2018 / Accepted: 4 October 2018 / Published: 10 October 2018
Mental health problems have become one of the leading causes of disease burden worldwide. This study used qualitative mixed methods including in-situ ‘being and doing’ activities with participants, interviews, and participant observations to explore participant’s experiences of a multi-visit nature-based intervention at Westonbirt Arboretum in England. The research found that three engagement types: (1) social, (2) woodland craft, and (3) creative and sensory, provided a meaningful programme to engage those with mental health, addiction, autism and behavioural problems. These types of engagement conferred a wide range of well-being benefits on participants. The study highlights key elements of the programme that were effective including the importance of repeat visits to nature to enable familiarity, using creative, sensory and craft activities, creating a supportive environment, involving the volunteers, and understanding the needs of participants and the organisations that work with them. The research suggests that nature-based programmes can be designed to be flexible and adaptable to meet the needs of participants with mental health and behavioural problems. Small numbers of participants can be involved in an intensive and immersive way that encourages an emotional affinity with nature. Inclusive and supportive programmes are particularly important for those who are vulnerable, as they are less likely to engage with nature than the wider population. View Full-Text
Keywords: Westonbirt Arboretum; well-being; nature-based intervention; green mind theory; mental health; mental well-being; behaviours; behaviour change Westonbirt Arboretum; well-being; nature-based intervention; green mind theory; mental health; mental well-being; behaviours; behaviour change
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O’Brien, L. Engaging with and Shaping Nature: A Nature-Based Intervention for Those with Mental Health and Behavioural Problems at the Westonbirt Arboretum in England. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 2214.

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