Nature and mental health: Live Q&A

Spending time in nature can have a positive impact on our mental health, whether that’s going for a walk or doing a spot of gardening. Getting outdoors can boost our mood and help us to focus, as well as giving us the opportunity to connect with others and be more active. It can also help us connect with our environment and feel as though we are part of something bigger than just ourselves.

For those of us living with a mental health condition getting outside can be difficult, but spending time in nature can help with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. When looking to increase the time you spend in nature, it’s important to find ways that work for you.

In this Q&A, we’ll be discussing some of the barriers that can stop us from getting outside and how we can incorporate spending more time in nature into our everyday lives.

We’re delighted to be joined by the following panellists:

  • Nicole Bell is a Development Officer within Paths for All’s Walking for Health team. Paths for All is Scotland’s everyday walking charity, aiming to get Scotland walking: everyone, everywhere, everyday. Day to day, Nicole supports projects which seek to get people together in sociable, low-level, group walks to boost wellbeing, enabling people to connect with others, outdoors, in their local area. Nicole is particularly interested in the impact physical activity and time in nature can have on our mental wellbeing. Nicole holds an MA (Hons) in Psychology; a choice of study prompted by growing up with a parent living with both Bipolar Disorder and Parkinson’s disease. Nicole has previously worked for founding member of Mental Health UK, Support in Mind Scotland. She now sits on their Board of Trustees. When she’s not on Zoom meetings, she is frequently spotted enjoying Scotland’s green spaces on foot or by bike.
  • Karen Hornigold is a Conservation Evidence Officer at the Woodland Trust, which she joined in 2016 after completing her PhD in nature-based recreation. The Woodland Trust is the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity, which owns over 1000 woods that are open to the public for quiet enjoyment of nature. The Woodland Trust’s vision is for a UK rich in native woods and trees, for people and wildlife; the Trust recognises and champions the huge array of benefits that woods and trees provide to people, from enchanting places to visit, to decorating our urban streets and parks. Karen collects and summarises data and evidence that help to demonstrate the importance of woods and trees and make a case for their protection and expansion in the UK. She curates a searchable database of publicly accessible woods available through the Woodland Trust website. This is used to track progress towards everyone having a local wood they can visit for all the health and wellbeing benefits that spending time in nature brings.
  • Dom Horton is Information Lead for Rethink Mental Illness Advice and Information Service. He’s experienced at writing, editing and managing the advice service’s information resources. Additionally, he has written on mental health for organisations such as Lloyds Banking Group, Aldi, the NHS and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. He’s also talked about mental health topics extensively, including appearing on a previous Clic event. Dom worked in the legal department at Barclays for nearly 20 years but his experience of mental illness led him to start working for Rethink Mental Illness nearly 6 years ago. He lives in Halesowen in the Black Country with his partner and son and in his spare time enjoys football, music, walking and real ale.

This session will be hosted by Charlotte Tidbury, Programme Support Officer at Mental Health UK.

To tune into the session, you’ll first need to create an account on Clic, then simply log in on Wednesday 26 May at midday and come back to the event page for the Q&A.

If you have a question you’d like to put to our experts, you can either submit one in advance or ask it in the live chat function while the event is happening.