Gardening the way to improved mental health

Numerous articles have been written on the benefits of Horticultural Therapy for people with mental health issues.

As well as being calming, the process of working with plants has been proven to help in the development of personal and social skills, while also creating a sense of achievement.

Rockingham Mental Health Garden - tomatoes

One of the participants shows off the tomatoes they grew in the garden.

Thanks to your support, the team at the Rockingham Kwinana Child & Adolescent Mental Health Clinic were given a Foundation grant to establish a community garden project for their young patients. The team at the clinic developed a plot within the Rockingham Community garden, which was already accessed by people of all ages within the local community.

The funding supported the rental of the garden plot, tools, plants and fertiliser.

The initiative aimed to give young people with mental health issues the opportunity to work with others and the community to develop something they had ownership of. Also, the team at the clinic recognised that sitting in a clinic is often not the ideal environment for young people who don’t have the words to express themselves – so why not take them outside?

Sixteen children between the ages of nine and 12 participated in the initiative where they learnt to take a mindfulness approach to the garden by exploring sounds, smells, textures and tastes.

Therapists gave the children projects to take home which resulted in improved communication with their families and a great deal of discussion and excitement when the group came back together for sessions as the children compared notes on their plants and how they were growing.

Feedback from the participants has been overwhelmingly positive, with many not wanting to leave the program at the end of their treatment. Several children have started their own garden patches at home and are getting their families involved. This is great news for the children who prior to their participation were disconnected from the general community and had poor self-esteem and social skills.

The initiative is continuing with more groups and plans for its expansion are being developed.

We hope that many more young people with mental health problems can benefit.

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