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Improving mental well-being through ‘wild skills’

 
Created on 22/06/2021 @ 10:24

 

Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust has launched a partnership with Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB) and Cardiff Met University to use our wealth of wildlife and outdoor spaces to tackle mental health.

The ‘Wild Skills Wild Spaces’ (WSWS) team from MWT met at Llyn Coed y Dinas to share their new ecotherapy programme aimed at both adults and young people who may be struggling with their mental health.

Ecotherapy is the term given to a range of activities and treatments that reconnect people with nature and the environment, in order to improve health and wellbeing.

Research carried out by the Wildlife Trust movement and Essex University has shown that such activities can reduce stress and anxiety and other low level mental wellbeing concerns. 

Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trusts’ Head of Health and Wellbeing, Carla Kenyon has been working in partnership with Powys Teaching Health Board to develop a project that empowers people who would not typically engage in outdoor activities and/or prescribed therapeutic interventions.

Staff from local mental health services have taken part in taster sessions, which has already generated a lot of interest with many eager to refer people to Wild Skills Wild Spaces. With funding from the Welsh Government, the emphasis is on providing free, inclusive and accessible sessions which are non-clinical and participants can partake at their own pace. 

Ecotherapy session stomping grounds will include local reserves at Llyn Coed Y Dinas and Severn Farm Pond in Welshpool, Dolforwyn Woods in Newtown, as well as the open Newtown site ‘Cultivate’ Community Gardens.

Activities will include wildlife walks, bushcraft skills like fire lighting, growing projects where participants will get to harvest and cook their own food and many other exciting opportunities.

The programme will be run on a 12-week basis, with sessions lasting for two and a half hours, once a week for small groups.

Project Manager, Frances- Louise believes that the success of the programme relies on the WSWS team keeping in touch with participants in the long term, setting up ‘friends of groups’ for each site so that they can continue to meet and improve their wellbeing. 

WSWS colleagues will be working with a research team led by Professor Diane Crone FRSPH at Cardiff Met University to evaluate the success of the own programme and provide standards and a framework for the Welsh Government to hopefully influence social policy. If the project is as successful as MWT hopes, it could potentially carve a pathway and framework for similar schemes to be set up in other parts of Wales.

To find out more about Wild Skills Wild Spaces, head to https://www.montwt.co.uk/WSWS 


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