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Feel better outside, feel better inside: Ecotherapy for mental wellbeing, resilience and recovery

Ecotherapy is an intervention that improves mental and physical health and wellbeing by supporting people to be active outdoors: doing gardening, food growing or environmental work.

This report provides the people who plan, commission and provide health and social care services with compelling evidence for providing ecotherapy services that can:

• help people look after their mental wellbeing
• support people who may be at risk of developing a mental health problem
• help the recovery of people with existing mental health problems.

Poor mental health is expensive
At least one in four British adults will experience some kind of mental health problem in any one year;i prescriptions for antidepressants are at record levels in England, with 50 million dispensed in 2012.ii The World Health Organization has predicted that depression will be the second biggest cause of illness worldwide by 2020.iii Mental health problems place enormous social and economic strains on individuals, their families and communities. For the state there are increased costs and demand for health and social care services and welfare benefits; while tax and national insurance contributions from people who cannot work are also lost.