A growing body of research has found that access and exposure to green space is vital to our overall health and well-being. Whether recreating, hiking, bird watching, or resting on a park bench in a National Forest, the restorative properties of nature are immense.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports six in ten Americans are living with at least one chronic condition including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, or mental health. For minority populations, the numbers are disproportionately higher. Managing chronic conditions is critical and requires adherence to medical treatments. Nature can also play a role in supporting physical and emotional healing. While there are many restorative ways in which nature supports human health, the pathway to nature connection is not one-size-fits-all. This discussion will offer meaningful experiences that can be put into practice.
Presented by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) and the US Forest Service (USFS), this webinar shared ways that healthcare professionals, outdoor interpretive and volunteer staff, and community organizations can use nature as a tool for promoting wellness, resilience, and recovery to their patients and community. It also introduced how outdoor access improves physical and mental wellbeing, examine the community needs and barriers to getting outside, and explore best practice nature and health programs.
- Sarah Newman (Climate Mental Health Network),
- Michelle Kondo, PhD (USDA Forest Service),
- Brenda Richardson (Anacostia Parks),
- Barbara Rolnick (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia).
Topics & Tools:
- Strategies for engaging communities in nature access.
- Practical resources and tools for a successful program.
- Triggers that exacerbate mental health conditions like anxiety, stress, and depression.
- Examples of nature-based trauma-informed care programs.
Interpretation, health, and volunteer coordinators, public lands professionals responsible for outdoor activities, healthcare providers, mental health professionals, and community-based organizations.
Resources from Webinar:
- Online Course: Nature Champion Training—This self-paced course aims to build capacity among health care providers, clinicians, and mental health professionals to be leaders in prescribing nature and connecting children and families with nature for health benefits.
Studies and Surveys:
- The Nature of Americans—A national initiative to understand and connect Americans and nature.
- Climate anxiety in children and young people and their beliefs about government responses to climate change: a global survey
- BSC Final Report: Climate Change & Youth Mental Health
- Community Schoolyards Projects: A Game-Changing Solution to America's Park Equity Problem
- Effects of trees, gardens, and nature trails on heat index and child health: design and methods of the Green Schoolyards Project
- BBC: Climate Change, Young People Very Worried
- A Solution for Climate Anxiety, Spending More Time in Nature
- USDA Forest Service Reimagine Recreation