11 November, 2008
Page, M. (2008) Gardening as a therapeutic intervention in mental health. Nursing Times; 104: 45, 28–30
This article describes why one low-secure unit chose to initiate a horticultural therapy project and organize it as a ‘workers’ cooperative’. The therapeutic benefits of gardening are explored, particularly focusing on the social benefits. The article also discusses the issue of hope, which is an intrinsic requirement in gardening.
Mathew Page, MSc, DipHE Nursing Studies, Dip Integrated Approaches to Serious Mental Illness, RN, is business development and governance manager, 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, Gloucester.
A number of problems may be considered endemic in many secure mental health facilities, which are often associated with long-term institutionalization.
The problem of poor physical health in this group (Meiklejohn et al, 2003) is compounded by negative symptomology of serious mental illness and use of high-dose antipsychotics.
For clinicians working in these environments, the issues that need to be considered for patients include lack of motivation, poor work skills, obesity, cardiac problems, poor diet and lack of regular exercise.
Gardening as therapy
While the initial inspiration for this project arose from my personal reflection that gardening is a beneficial experience, an evidence base underpins what is generally described as horticultural therapy.
Enthusiastic gardeners argue that producing one’s own food is a great tonic in a number of ways but specifically this project was interested in the benefits of increased exercise, increased knowledge and skills, and improved diet.
Not long after this project began, Mind (2007) published a report that used research data and case studies to demonstrate that Eco therapy is a simple, cost-effective means of improving well-being.
Alongside horticultural activities, a variety of options... [continues]
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