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Gardening to help mental health

Gardeners will rise to the challenge

How gardening helped my depression

It can only be a good thing that people are talking about mental illness and health – Princes Harry and William opening up about their experiences after their mother’s death, the Heads Together charity and the documentary, Mind over Marathon.

My family, like most others, has suffered from one form of mental illness or another – my grandmother was bipolar, nearly everyone has suffered from one form of stress or another and I went through a period of depression a few years back.

If you don’t have the illness and are the partner, carer, friend or family member of some who does, it can be just as painful and leave you feeling helpless.

I’ve always admired Monty Don for talking about his bouts of depression, something I’m only able to do now in retrospect.

Monty Don
Monty Don – deep respect for being able to talk about depression

Sometimes, it can be difficult to move or do anything with depression, let alone plan an agenda of creating a garden.

Force yourself

I found it easiest to not think, force myself to take the crucial step of getting the wellies and coat on, and step out of the door.

This was usually incredibly difficult and often didn’t happen at all, leaving me feeling totally useless.

However, on the days I did manage to venture out, I’d often end up being outside for six hours or more until I was exhausted, but a damn sight more at peace.

The physical tiredness led to a good, healing proper night’s sleep without my overactive mind getting the upper hand.

Mental health issues are estimated to affect a quarter of us at one time or another (I suspect this is vastly underreported), but services to help people are not always available in these days of cuts.

Positive effect

Studies suggest that 30 minutes of gardening can have a positive effect on mental health and it has been argued that if ‘horticultural therapy’ was actually prescribed by GPs for mental health issues, substantial savings could be made to the NHS and therefore the economy.

Seedsman Thompson & Morgan is also encouraging people to try gardening to improve their mental health. The blog by Sonia Mermagen is really worth a read.

Visit www.thompson-morgan.com/gardening-for-mental-health to find out more about how your mental health and well-being can be improved through gardening.


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  1. Lovely post x I suffered from depression for a while before I took up gardening and it has completely changed me. It really does help I recommend it to anyone no matter if its a simply off day to the worse point of the illness of depression. It’s nature’s little secret and I love it xx Thanks for raising this point xx

    • Hi Krystal, thanks for such a lovely thanks! Everyone’s different and it’s that first step out of the door that’s the most important. It was a very tough decision to share my experience but if it helps one person, then it was worth it. x

      • You’re right, it is hard to open up but blogs like this, openness and the head together campaign really helps. I find it more difficult to cover up the depression, hiding the secret of it makes the depression worse, so now I am open and honest, the plants always listen to me ! :))

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