A number of projects support people with mental health difficulties through connecting them with nature. Their popularity reflects a growing evidence base recognizing that being in nature can have significant benefits for well-being. This study reports on the social and psychological benefits of being involved in a specific program that aims to help people with mental ill health experience a connection with nature in a supportive social group. The experiences of nine different groups of participants(N = 87)over 3 years of a nature-based program were examined. A thematic analysis of participants' accounts of their experiences revealed the specific personal and social benefits to be gained from participation in a nature-based program. Four key interrelated themes emerged: escape, being present, social contact, and personal growth. These findings suggest nature-based recovery is aided by the mutually reinforcing dynamics of being in nature, shared recognition and support through contact with others, and greater understanding of the self. The implications of these findings for a recovery model of mental health are discussed
Bibliographical noteFinal publication is available from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/eco.2017.0032
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- School of Applied Social Science - Principal Lecturer
- Cities, Injustice and Resistance Research and Enterprise Group
- Centre for Spatial, Environmental and Cultural Politics
- Narrative and Biographical Methodologies in Education Research and Enterprise Group