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Volunteering on nature projects boosts mental health, study finds

Research suggests nature volunteering could provide an important ‘non-medical’ service that would help relieve the burden on the NHS.

Research suggests nature volunteering could provide an important ‘non-medical’ service that would help relieve the burden on the NHS.

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Volunteering on projects that bring people closer to nature can boost mental health and well-being, a study has found.

Almost all (95%) people reported an improvement in levels of mental health after six weeks of doing voluntary work with Wildlife Trusts, with further increases over 12 weeks, the research shows.

The study from the University of Essex also found that the well-being of more than two-thirds (69%) of the participants had improved.

Schemes include clearing scrub, planting trees, sowing seeds and growing food, as well as building bird tables and bug hotels.

Nature volunteering can provide an important ‘non-medical’ service to help people and relieve the burden on the NHS, the report suggests.

The study assessed changes in the attitudes, behaviour and wellbeing of 139 people, many of whom were attending conservation projects because of mental health problems or being cut off from other people.

University of Essex sport and exercise science faculty member Mike Rogerson said: ‘At a time when we are losing count of health, well-being, loneliness, community and NHS burden crises, engagement with the Wildlife Trusts’ volunteering activities can provide a much-needed antidote for individuals, local areas and the UK as a whole.’


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