The Wildlife Trust has published a new report which examines the effects of volunteering in nature on people’s mental health.
The study was carried out by the University of Essex and found that 95% of participants who were identified as having poor levels of mental health at the start, reported an improvement in six weeks, which increased further over 12 weeks.
The mental wellbeing of more than two-thirds (69%) of all participants had improved after just six weeks.
Improvements were greatest for people new to volunteering with The Wildlife Trust and those who had poor levels of mental health at the start.
The study – The Health and Wellbeing Impacts of Volunteering with The Wildlife Trust – was the third phase of scientific research carried out by the University of Essex on behalf of the organisation.
It assessed changes in 139 participants’ attitudes, behaviour and mental wellbeing over the course of 12 weeks during which they took part in nature conservation volunteering activities.
Dominic Higgins, nature and wellbeing manager at The Wildlife Trust, said: “The results of this structured research project make a powerful case for nature having a larger role in people’s everyday lives.
“The evidence is loud and clear – volunteering in wild places while being supported by Wildlife Trust staff has a clear impact on people’s health; it makes people feel better, happier and more connected to other people.”
He added: “The Department of Health should take note – our findings could help reduce the current burden on the NHS because they illustrate a new model of caring for people that does not rely solely on medication and traditional services.”