This particular article has been doing the rounds for the last few days on social Media. Whilst it is written by one of the more *interesting* of British Newspapers, it does raise some interesting points. Especially as the gardeners of Britain count down for the arrival of Spring and are able to once more get their green fingers dirty.
In the first instance, I will caveat things by saying don’t be fooled by the sample size mentioned at the end of the article. 112 participants does not make for a generalisable sample. I am also curious about the nature of being ‘stressed out’ as it is termed. There is no comment as to how that has been operationalised and doesn’t mention any form of mental health concerns that may exist in that sample. The research is prefaced by examples and anecdotal evidence involving different situations. I am however wary of the scientific process behind this article and how the article may be interpreted. The perils, I guess, of being a teacher of Psychology with horticultural tendencies. I am likely to consider the research methods used to question the scientific rigour that is being presented.
That said, I do believe that gardening has a positive effect on Mental health and well being. Both on personal level and also on wider level when groups in society feel the positive impact of being involved in green spaces. There was until recently a charity in Scotland-Gardening leave- who used horticultural therapy to support veteran of conflict and did it very successfully from what I have read. Sadly, funding became an issue, and the charity had to close down operations. Then there is Thrive who also use horticulture as therapeutic medium.
It is a shame that gardening and horticultural therapy (also called therapeutic horticulture, yes, I know, the terms are used interchangeably) occurs, but doesn’t get the wider publicity that is deserves in order to get momentum and become wider spread. There have been initiatives, such as the one run by MIND , a few years ago and these were successful. So much so, that the results of influenced public policy. I feel really very strongly about it, having worked in a number of posts where school gardening clubs have helped support learners. Some of which, were vulnerable or have had mental health concerns. It also saddened me that Gardening Leave had to close it’s doors, and my immediate hope what that the veterans that they supported would have appropriate support systems put in place. With the value and implementation of gardening and horticultural therapy being so limited, I consciously wrote about the positive effects in #plantpottales. It is not necessary to have a huge great big allotment to see the benefits, containers in a garden or a kitchen window sill would just as positive and just as useful.
I will continue to talk about the positive effects of gardening on mental health. All being well, someone might actually hear me and listen.