Greenspaces for Mental Health – a helpful Guide

Greenspaces for Mental Health is a thoughtful and helpful Guide for those delivering, and those thinking about delivering greenspace programmes for mental wellbeing.

Led by Wendy Masterton from Stirling University, together with The Conservation Volunteers TCV   and the Dundee Green Health Partnership it benefits from this collaborative approach.

A Framework of seven key research findings are described, as identified in Masterton et al.’s review. Ideas about how these findings might translate into practice are given, alongside practical perspectives from practitioners.

The research found that effective programmes should:

  1. Create that “feeling of escape” and removal from day to day life stressors
  2. Create space to reflect
  3. Ensure availability of physical activity
  4. Support participant empowerment
  5. Deliver activities with a purpose
  6. Build and maintain and positive relationships between facilitator and participant
  7. Provide shared experiences

Download the Guide 

New research 

Since publication of the Guide, Wendy Masterton has continued her research in this area.  Her paper  Exploring how greenspace programmes might be effective in supporting people with problem substance use: a realist interview study  expands the work in the Guide and discusses how greenspace programmes can also specifically support people with drug and alcohol dependence, as well as with poor mental health (and, as Wendy says, the two are often related).

Findings support the proposed framework and indicate that greenspace programmes supporting people with poor mental health and PSU (Problem Substance Use) should not only include the 7 research points in the Guide (feelings of escape; space to reflect; physical activity; self-efficacy; feelings of purpose; relationships; and shared experiences) , but must consider:

- explicit intervention focus to ensure adequate support for clients;
- existing challenges with funding and stakeholder buy-in;
- and the impact of COVID-19.

Findings allowed development of a refined framework that shows how greenspace programmes can support people with PSU.

Read the Research