In the UK, rates of anxiety and depression in young people have doubled since the 1980’s. Research shows nearly half of all serious mental health issues manifest by age 14. Yet worryingly, an increase in both demand and need has combined with diminishing NHS funding. For young people with wellbeing challenges, this is leading to long waiting times. While 75% of parents whose children are unwell seek help, only 25% receive NHS support.
According to the Chief Medical Officer, as many as 25% of all adolescent mental health problems are preventable through early intervention and support. In response, the NHS report Future in Mind advocates the need for a more accessible, locally organised and responsive system that prioritises prevention, early intervention and resilience and a strengthening of relationships between family and friends.
How The Wild Mind Project Can Help
The Wild Mind Project has had extensive experience of working with young people who are vulnerable to, or experiencing mental ill-health. Our programmes get young people out into nature, mindfully observing the natural world or doing activities such as conservation work or gardening. The young people also engage in a range of therapeutic nature focussed art activities.
Evidence suggests that spending time in natural environments can improve mental health and wellbeing. Nature reduces neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex which can alleviate symptoms of depression. It also facilitates social networking and promotes social inclusion in children and adolescents. This approach is often referred to as green care or nature-based intervention.
Research also suggests that community-based arts activities can help stabilise young people’s mental health. Creative activity enhances positive mood11 which increases levels of mental flexibility and creative thinking, and facilitates cognitive processing which primes for cognitive change.
We create a safe and supportive environment that encourages the group’s active engagement with the art materials and nature to facilitate both verbal and non-verbal modes of communication.
The Wild Mind Project runs 4 or 5 week programmes to engage groups of young people who are at risk of, or are struggling with their mental health. These programmes are sometimes specifically targeted at particularly vulnerable groups, such as the young LGBTQ community.
We encourage all of our participants to engage in progression activities. Our nature activities often inspire young people to take an active role in local environmental projects, or we encourage them to get involved in other community projects, so they have the chance to ‘give-back’ to society. Giving to others can help protect mental health and provides a sense of purpose. A paper published in the British Medical Journal indicates that referral to a suitable voluntary sector project results in additional patient benefits, compared with general practitioner care alone.
Parents and carers play a vital role in helping their child with mental ill-health. However, looking after a family member with a mental health problem can have a significant impact on the carers’ own mental health. We therefore run parent/carer wellbeing workshops.
If you would like to refer a young person to one of our programmes, please complete our Referral Form. Thank you.
‘What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality”. Plutarch