September2 2020 | Page 16

THERAPY In tune with nat of the main things I wanted was to come somewhere where I could ‘One get away from things. At Bosence I feel completely removed from temptation and can focus on my treatment and concentrate on getting well.’ Coming down from London to 22 acres of beautiful Cornish gardens and woodland, Nick found a tranquil environment away from all distractions. Alongside the detoxification, stabilisation and round-the-clock nursing support – including a highly specialised service for young people – Bosence has recently introduced an ecotherapy programme. Nick can now take part in four individual weekly sessions: Propagation, providing clients with the necessary skills to learn how to plant seeds and care for plants. From the heart of the Cornish countryside Bosence Farm Community has been developing ecotherapy, as Tom Packer explains Herbal tea making, which aims to promote wellness and relieve stress by helping participants to achieve a more relaxed state of mind. Those taking part are introduced to a range of herbs and gain an understanding of how they nourish the nervous system and strengthen the immune system. Nature observation, designed to promote care, respect and understanding of the natural world. Clients learn how to identify different species of wildlife and observe and interpret the environment around them. Forest bathing and mindfulness, which teaches the basic principles of forest bathing, mindfulness, improving sensory awareness and breathing techniques. ‘In the mornings I’ll often take a walk around the grounds, just to admire the scenery and breathe in the country air,’ says Nick. ‘I’ve really enjoyed the guided nature walks around the nature trail, where I have been able to take part in wildlife surveys, to identify a range of species. I’ve been given responsibility to look after the greenhouses, which I really appreciate as it’s my way of giving back and contributing to the dayto-day running of Bosence. I’ve learnt so much.’ In an age of technology there is mounting evidence to suggest that by pushing away from nature, we have begun to lose contact with a necessary tool for optimal mental health. Pioneering research carried out by R S Ulrich in the late 1970s examined the psychological influence of scenes of nature on the stress experienced by individuals and medical recovery rates. Ulrich was able to demonstrate that observing ‘natural’ scenes increased feelings of friendliness, affection, joy and playfulness, boosting the production of serotonin without the use of antidepressant medication. In more recent years there has been a growing recognition of ecotherapy and the vital role it plays in optimising positive mental health, with a clear application in supporting individuals to overcome addiction and maintain long term recovery. Ecotherapy can also give people a sense of achievement and purpose, providing structure and routine to people who might not have these in their lives. A recent article published in New Scientist explores the importance of outdoor space and nature in recovery and mental health. It describes how in the Shetland Islands, people with a physical or mental ill health are being recommended to ‘take in the sights and sounds of seabird colonies, build woodland dens or simply appreciate the shapes of clouds’. A New Zealand initiative found that two-thirds of patients were ‘more active and felt healthier’ six to eight months after this ‘green prescription’, it adds, and almost half had lost weight. ’Meanwhile, ecotherapy, which involves participating in outdoor activities 16 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • SEPTEMBER 2020 WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM