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Glasgow's Woodlands Are "Just the Tonic"

October 14, 2010 3:07 PM

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An innovate project that uses Glasgow’s woodlands as the tonic to recover from mental ill health has won recognition by scooping a major environmental award.

The Branching Out programme, jointly developed and pioneered by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), Forestry Commission Scotland, the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, and Glasgow and Clyde Valley Green Network Partnership, has won this year’s “Best Green Healthcare Provision” prize in the Scottish Green Awards.

Woodlands around Cathkin Braes, Carmunock and Garscadden are the location for much of this groundbreaking project’s work.

A range of activities, including green exercise, planting and conservation work, in the woodoand setting, is helping patients recover from mental ill health.

High McNish, Health Advisor with Forestry Commission Scotland, said: “Woodlands are like a natural health service.

“Greenspace can act as a stress reliever and offers a more calming environment for patients and assists in their recovery.

“Getting active, meeting like minded people and learning new skills can really help build self confidence.

“Well over 200 adults have taken part in the initiative and they have reported improvements in their social skills, confidence and self esteem. All these factors can just be the tonic needed to kick start recovery towards flourishing mental health.”

The Branching Out programme is currently supported by and working in partnership with NHSGGC and the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) amd the programme is one of the association’s “Get Active” pilot demonstration projects.

Participants are referred through a number of mental health services and attend woodland based programmes once a week for 12 weeks. There are usually three groups that run at the same time in the different woodlands and at the end they get together and celebrate their successes with family and friends.

The initial 12-month Branching Out service development and evaluation was delivered with funding and support from a variety of partners including NHSGGC, the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, Glasgow and Clyde Valley Green Network Partnership and Glasgow City Council.

Anne Hawkins, Director of the Mental Health Partnership in NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde said:
“This is an innovative development for clients who use mental health services within Greater Glasgow and Clyde and it offers a great adjunct to support treatment and promote recovery.”

Branching Out, with the support of Forestry Commission Scotland, is now being delivered in Edinburgh by the Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust in partnership with NHS Lothian.

The Scottish Green Awards provides a high profile annual focus to promote Scotland as a country that encourages sustainability, tackles climate change and is committed to improving energy efficiency.

Caption: left to right - Tommy Harrison (NHS GGC); Kirsty Cathrine (Forestry Commission Scotland); BBC Scotland presenter Jackie Bird; Hugh McNish (Forestry Commission Scotland)
Credit : Dominic Cocozza, Scottish Daily Record

Notes to news editors:

1. Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate

2. For more information on Branching Out log on to:

3. Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508 or contact either NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected]

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Last Updated: 11 November 2021