I don’t think gardening and wellbeing have ever been spoken about more than in this year, a breakthrough in it self.
We needed the change and I really hope that this openness, as well as the prominent article that came out in The Times on Sunday are signs that it is on the way.
Tablets, Group Cognitive Behavioural Therapy classes and if you are lucky, then 1-2-1 Psychotherapy can help many but not all. Others like myself at 21, have tried these methods but are still waiting for that one thing to click so they can feel at one with the world again.
Gardening, well the magic of GYO gave me that click as you know…that catalyst to believe in myself and the drive to be a stronger, happier person.
I’m not a fool, I know gardening – Social & Therapeutic Horticulture to be precise won’t help everyone unfortunately; for some it won’t make a difference, for others they also need deeper therapy, like I did myself, but….what if gardening could help save and change the lives of even a 1/4 of those who need help! Imagine how much better, happier and greener the world could be.
For The Times article and latest positive news regarding the £4.5m promised for self prescribing schemes to come out over the weekend, seems such a poignant time for me too.
Especially as if you follow my social accounts, you will know I recently attended and was honoured to be a judge at the annual Trunkwell Flower Show run by the gardening charity very close to my heart, Thrive.
On top of that I spent yesterday alongside BBC Gardeners’ World presenter and Garden Designer, Mark Lane at Core Landscapes, the incredible urban community garden and charity in Whitechapel, London. Mark is their patron and very proudly so…you would never believe or know this place existed tucked away in the middle of all the hustle and bustle right next to The Royal London Hospital. What a mind-blowing garden and all in containers. If you didn’t believe you could grow plants in anything, visit this place – Uggs, kettles, Grundon bins, oh and pots…you can create beauty in anything.
Both inspirational charities bringing Social & Therapeutic Horticulture (STH) to the forefront and working to help those with mental health struggles – of which I will touch on further and highlight individually at a later date alongside some very exciting news.
But it just seems like everything is finally coming together for change, just as I begin to set up my own social enterprise on a mission to change more lives through the magic that is gardening.
So what did the article say and will it all come to fruition? Will we actually see the money or will it stay hidden at the top being spent on more research when really we know the facts already? Both questions we discussed openly yesterday over tea, doughnuts, cake and plants of course.
I’m not sure in all honesty and I will be waiting with one hopeful foot in the government door to find out.
But as I mentioned briefly, the promise that Mr Matt Hancock, the new Health Secretary has made is to allocate £4.5m of funding ‘to help dozens of areas set up “social prescribing” schemes as alternatives to medicine for people who are lonely or suffering from mental health problems.’ While a relatively limited sum will not itself make such options routine, Mr Hancock intends it as an early signal of his desire to focus on preventative measures and “reduce the over prescription of unsophisticated drugs”.
1 in 4 people will suffer from mental heath struggles in their life
7.3 million people were prescribed antidepressants last year, including more than 70,000 children.
When you look at these alarming key stats alongside my own experiences, firstly the ‘quick get them out the door’ drug prescription rate is outrageous in my view but also the maths doesn’t add up in terms of funding. Which at least they acknowledge – but with my always positive pants on…at least…now maybe this is the start of government backing and not a complete uphill battle for this not so secret revelation to hit home where it matters.
You can read the full Times article here.
We need to give patients more time, compassion, care and options – you could argue that GP surgeries are understaffed alongside many other reasons so don’t have the time, but when does it come down to what really matters – the patients long term wellbeing, confidence and ability to take control.
In the meantime while we wait for the real big pennies to finally drop, its charities like Thrive and Core Landscapes, social enterprises like my own coming soon and all the community gardens across the UK that need your support.
Take a visit, volunteer your time, donate, buy a plant, drag along a friend or just say hi – show them a little bit of love because it can go along way if we all do it together.
Lastly, if you run a gardening charity, social enterprise or community garden with Social & Therapeutic Horticulture (STH) at the heart please email me the details to Annabelle@lifeatno27.com, so I can help share our joint passion. Don’t forget to also add how people can find out about you – this is where the gap is in my view.