Realising the mental health benefits of contact with nature
To mark Mental Health Week 2016, the South Australian Government has launched a new action plan to promote the mental health benefits of spending time in nature.
The action plan, Realising the mental health benefits of contact with nature, is a joint initiative of the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) and the Department for Health and Ageing (DHA), supported through the Healthy Parks, Healthy People South Australia Framework.
Strategic leadership of the Healthy Parks Healthy People Framework is provided by DEWNR Chief Executive Sandy Pitcher and DHA Deputy Chief Executive Len Richards. The two agencies are working closely together to support the South Australian community to improve their health and mental wellbeing through spending time in nature.
There is strong evidence to support the link between nature and positive health outcomes, including reductions in obesity and chronic disease, and improvements in mental health and social wellbeing.
Research has also shown that spending time in nature can improve our ability to concentrate and learn, solve problems, think critically, and be creative.
Nature is important for people of all ages, but it has been shown to be especially beneficial for children, the elderly and people suffering from a mental illness or disability.
The action plan has a long-term aim of ensuring that all South Australians understand that contact with nature is necessary for protecting and promoting their mental health.
Some of the short-term outcomes that will be delivered under this action plan include using evidence-based research to inform new policies and plans, such as the Suicide Prevention Strategy for SA and the South Australian Mental Health Plan.
Other actions include convening masterclasses and identifying nature-based initiatives and campaigns that promote the benefits of nature for everyone’s mental health.
Authorised by Sandy Pitcher
Chief Executive Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources