Making Memories… Giving Hope

Children's Mental Health Week: The benefits of the great outdoors

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This week is Children’s Mental Health Week in the UK, hosted by charity Place2Be. We wanted to take the opportunity to explore the work that we do with disadvantaged children in the UK, and how it has a positive impact on their mental health.

As you may have noticed from all our photos, we spend lots of time enjoying the great outdoors. All three of our retreats are in beautiful countryside locations, and we really do make the most of them, taking children to the beach, flying kites on Dartmoor or walking in the Peak District.

The charity Mind* has discovered that spending time doing activity in nature can greatly improve people’s mental health, but shocking research from Natural England** has recently revealed that 10% of children in the UK have not visited a natural environment (including a park in a town or city) in the last 12 months.

Sadly, it’s not hard for us to believe. We regularly give children their first experiences of the great outdoors, such as going to the beach or seeing a sheep.

Many of the children who come to CHICKS are struggling to deal with negative emotions as a result of their circumstances at home, so a week exploring the great outdoors can give them a real boost.

Head of Respite Breaks, Richard, explains how losing touch with the natural world around us can have a negative effect on children: “Humans are a product of the natural environment, which seems like an obvious statement, but with reports suggesting that children are spending less and less time in the outdoors, we seem in danger of losing this connection.

“The benefits of enjoying time immersed in the elements are huge – everything from improving confidence and social interactions to co-operation skills and problem-solving abilities.”

A CHICKS respite break makes use of natural spaces to create challenges and adventure as well as peaceful, reflective experiences. Children learn about themselves and how they interact with the world through the natural consequences and feedback that the environment provides.

By giving children these experiences, we are able to impact positively on their mental health. In 2016, 95% of children had improved self-esteem, and 92% had improved emotional wellbeing after their week long break***.

Our first breaks of the year take place next week, but we need your support! Find out how you can get involved or donate now and help us to positively impact on disadvantaged children in the UK.

*Mind, ‘Ecotherapy’, October 2015

**Natural England, ‘Monitor of Engagement with the natural environment’, February 2016

*** Survey of 102 referral partners 

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