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Branching Out : the impact of a mental health ecotherapy programme

Wilson, Neil and Jones, Russell and Fleming, Susan and Lafferty, Kevin and Knifton, Lee and Catherine, Kirsty and McNish, Hugh (2011) Branching Out : the impact of a mental health ecotherapy programme. Ecopsychology, 3 (1). pp. 51-57.

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Abstract

Branching Out is a national-award-winning program developed by The Forestry Commission Scotland and The National Health Service. For each client, the program consists of 3 hrs of ecotherapy per week in outdoor woodland settings. Clients work together in small groups of 6–12 for a 12-week period. The program was evaluated using a repeated measures design. The independent variable was “attendance of the program,” of which there were two levels. The dependent variables were scores on the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (WEMWBS), the SF-12v2TM Health Survey, and the Scottish Physical Activity Questionnaire (SPAQ). Repeated measures t-tests were used to examine pre- to postchange in the dependent variables. There were no significant differences between the pre- and post-WEMWBS or SF-12v2TM Health Survey scores, indicating that attendance of Branching Out did not have any significant effect on mental well-being or general health. Attendance of Branching Out significantly improved physical activity levels as evidenced by significantly higher postintervention SPAQ scores from baseline. The implications for practice are discussed.