Nature good for mental health, psychiatrists say
The public was today asked to get back to grass roots and connect with the natural world as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.
Kim Wilson, the health minister, said mental health had become more important because of the stress of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Anna Neilson-Williams, the Bermuda Hospitals Board’s acting chief of psychiatry, added that studies had shown that exposure to the natural world could improve mental health.
Dr Neilson-Williams said: “Time in nature has been shown to reduce stress hormones, lower blood pressure, reduce nervous system arousal, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety and improve mood.”
The theme of the week, which runs from today until October 11, is “Nature – It’s Part of Your Everyday Life”.
Preston Swan, the action chief operating officer of psychiatric hospital the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute, added: “A UK survey this year found that 59 per cent of the respondents felt going for a walk outside helped them cope with stress related to the Covid-19 pandemic and 50 per cent felt that just being able to visit green space helped them.
“This shows that even small amounts of time in nature can reduce feelings of social isolation and be effective in protecting your mental health.”
Ms Wilson said: “We are all, I believe, more open to discovering and adopting ways to protect and build resilience for our mental wellbeing.
“This week we, the Government, would like the entire community to connect with nature – perhaps in new ways and to notice how this makes them feel.
“Perhaps you feel calmer, less anxious or just feel that you are in a better mood.”
Ms Wilson said: “Connecting with nature is easy to incorporate in your everyday life – you can have your lunch in one of the parks, tend to your house plants, listen to birds, smell flowers, write poetry about nature, hug a tree, or enjoy walking or running along our beautiful railway trails and pristine beaches.
“Enjoy the slightly cooler temperatures and have a picnic with your children.
“This week, we ask you to do three things – experience nature, share nature on social media and talk about nature. In other words, for this week, make nature a part of your everyday life.”
She added: “Mental health is important to each and every one of us, not just those of us who have a mental health ailment.”
The public can tune into The Daily Hour on Facebook at 8am tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday to learn about how nature can help foster good mental health in different age groups.
MWI’s annual MindFrame PhotoVoice exhibition, which features artwork from MWI patients, is at the Bermuda Society of Arts at Hamilton City Hall until October 13.