Get involved

Nature Group for mental health recovery

Organisation: Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Location: East Brighton ATS

wellbeing heart icon


What's the idea?

Sussex Partnership's Tammie Cook-Duncan ( Lead Nurse East ATS) came to the Care Without Carbon with an idea to take service users into nature to aid their recovery. The Trust was able to secure funding to trial the approach.

The Nature Group premise was for the participants to connect both with nature, and each other; plus to then continue beyond the sessions with their own connections into nature, whether via a community garden or their own explorations.

A growing body of research shows evidence that being in nature, in green spaces and being outdoors is beneficial to our mental and overall well-being.

fire pit

Impact of the project

Improved sense of connection

One participant said, “I've thoroughly enjoyed the course after a nervous start about interacting with new people. I feel more confident about meeting new people in a group setting".
Kettle over a fire

Improvement in mood

All participants reported a lift in mood from attending ranging from definitely to some extent.
Art work from nature

Connection to nature

One participant said "Being in such a great spot surrounded by trees and the allotment has been realty calming".
person by a pond

How you could implement a similar idea

Setting up a nature group just takes a bit of pre-planning.

Below are some tips to get you started: 

  • Investigate a suitable location: think about accessibility so people of all abilities can get there, and good transport links to minimise car use. What is on the site that can support what you need, for example will you need access to a toilet or water?
  • Get permission: once you have a location, and rough numbers for cost based on participants, check in with your manager to make sure you get the go ahead signed off, and source any funding you may need.
  • Evaluate participants: ask colleagues to recommend participants, and ensure everyone will be safe in an environment that could carry risks such as fire, or access to sharp tools.
  • Plan your activities: a programme for the nature group sessions will enable you to get the most from the time outdoors and plan for the best way to evaluate the benefits at the end.
  • Consider the weather: working outdoors can risk soggy sessions, ensure you and your participants have either a plan B location, or suitable protective kit to make being out in the rain a bit more do-able.

Resources to get you started

If you're interested but would like a bit more understanding around the value of nature for wellbeing and mental health recovery, check out these links for more information and inspiration:

What else can I do?

Already got an idea?