“Every participant that was interviewed reported an improvement of their overall mental health as a result of being involved in the project.”
Alex Maclean BSc PGDip MBACP MBpS
Woodland Wellbeing Sessions
Our outdoor wellbeing project is open to adults with a range of mild, moderate and severe mental health conditions. The project aims to support, encourage, facilitate and assist healing and recovery for those struggling with mental heath issues through spending time in nature.
The sessions take place on our beautiful woodland site in Deepdale Nature Reserve, where we have a tranquil wooded area, large flower meadow and a relaxing stream. Sessions are semi structured providing the opportunity for the participants to engage with each other and the facilitators. Based on participants interests we offer a range of outdoor/woodland activities including foraging, whittling, and cooking on the camp fire. There is no pressure to engage and participants are given time and space to choose how much, with whom and with what activities they choose to partake.
Woodland Wellbeing sessions rely on funding, we are constantly looking for opportunities to secure more funding. If you are interested in participating in sessions in the future please get in touch and we will let you know when we have spaces available.
If you are a GP and interested in our work we would love to speak to you.
‘‘“My confidence grew so much I became so much happier. So much so that I became involved in something I believe in, helped there, made friends and have a brilliant career that I have always dreamed about. You have forever changed my life and I will forever be grateful.’’
~ JH, Participant
‘‘The peace and quiet and mutual respect and the interesting activities.’’
~ J. Brown, Participant
The Project to date
Our Woodland Wellbeing project started as a 15 week pilot funded by Northern Heartlands Community Initiative Fund, managed by the County Durham Community Foundation. As part of that project, Alex Maclean BSc PGDip MBACP MBpS, carried out research evaluation, employing a mixed method design with both quantitative and qualitative measures by means of questionnaires and semi structured interviews. Participants were given questionnaires to complete measuring perceived stress levels, self esteem, general wellbeing and relatedness/connection to nature. These measures were taken at the beginning of the project, at a midway point and at the end of the project.
Every participant that was interviewed reported an improvement of their overall mental health as a result of being involved in the project and all expressed their desire and motivation to to be involved if there were a continuation of the project, and a sadness and some anxiety that it was coming to an end. A statistical analysis using a repeated measures ANOVA (Analysis of Variance) did indeed demonstrate an overall increase in wellbeing, self esteem, relatedness to nature and a decrease in perceived stress across the group.
A full copy of the report is available here.
Further funding was then secured from The National Lottery Community Fund, who covered the costs of another 20 sessions just as we came out of the first look down in August 2020. These sessions were well received as people felt the impact of the pandemic on their mental well being.