In the years of Covid-19 restrictions, millions of people have discovered how being in nature supports and protects our mental wellbeing. With the loss of connection to friends, family and colleagues, and with the majority of our usual coping strategies not available to us, nature has been one of the few resources we have been able to access. And it has proved to be a lifeline for many.
Whether that be the urban parks and gardens, rivers and coasts, or plants and wildlife closer to home, these times has brought a greater appreciation of the value of our green and blue spaces. And yet the value of nature has long been known and celebrated. Over many hundreds of years, countless authors, poets, spiritual teachers, environmentalists, doctors and scientists have expressed the power of nature as a healing agent for mind, body and soul. But somewhere this ancient wisdom has been lost, and only now are we rediscovering this knowledge, and recognising its true worth through the global impact of Covid-19.
A consistent theme that emerged throughout our program design and interaction with our participants was the role of outdoor nature programmes and activities in improving mental wellbeing.
‘Nature-deficit disorder’, a concept that describes the human cost of spending more time indoors and the consequent loss of connection with the natural environment. Although it is not recognised as a formal diagnosis, there are known psychological, physical and cognitive costs of human alienation from nature, particularly for children – depression, anxiety, attention-deficit symptoms and vitamin D deficiency, to name but a few. It is therefore something of a dichotomy that an inpatient environment, whose role is to aid recovery from mental illness, may in fact compound the issues by denying access to nature and the natural environment.
So if the purpose is to start activating the protective benefits of the natural environment, we must ensure that we improve people's access and not endanger it at the same time.
Covid-19 restrictions have brought the importance of nature to our mental health to national consciousness - the evidence is there, written large for all to see.
And now it is finally being recognised within everyday life, perhaps this will be the impetus needed to integrate nature-based programmes into all of our mental health services, from prevention through to therapeutic services.
Adventures by Asian Detours is believes strongly in creating shared experiences and building a global community that invests in relationships through experiences. We believe in good design that will allow us to scale for great impact. Some of our best designed experiences have stood the test of time for more than 10 years and have continued to embrace the continual efforts of our people and partners enriching it with new perspectives.