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Mental Health Awareness Week: Parks can improve wellbeing

Lambeth council is encouraging people to get out and enjoy the borough’s wide range of parks and commons to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.

The awareness week, from today to May 19, is this year focusing on physical activity and exercise to highlight how they can improve mental health and wellbeing.

Cllr Jim Dickson, Cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “It has already been established that older people in urban areas who have access to decent parks live longer than those who do not.

“Green space is known to be very good for emotional wellbeing; improving mood and reducing stress and anxiety. So we are backing projects that help people with mental health issues make the most of our great selection of parks. Community groups interested in running other schemes in the borough’s parks should get in touch.”

Schemes using open spaces in Lambeth to help people experiencing or recovering from mental health issues or post-traumatic stress disorder include Dig It! and Putting Down Roots.

Dig It! at Larkhall Park, Stockwell is run national disability and mental health charity Thrive. The council has provided a section of park for Thrive to work with clients and volunteers to create a new garden and food growing plots. There are also open days and sessions for local people to get involved.

Another project running in Lambeth is called Putting Down Roots which is managed by the homeless and addiction charity St Mungo’s and based in St John’s Churchyard in Waterloo Road, Waterloo.

Parts of the churchyard are used for gardening and skill development programmes, and it benefits rough sleepers and ex-military personnel who have struggled to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dr Ruth Wallis, Lambeth and Southwark Director of Public Health, said: “We look forward to working more closely with residents and colleagues in planning and regeneration to improve the quality of our built environment now that Public Health responsibilities have moved from the NHS to local authorities.”

Lambeth has 62 parks, commons and other green public spaces from Brockwell Park to Streatham Common. For more information visit www.lambeth.gov.uk/Services/Environment/ParksGreenSpaces/

Mental Health Awareness Week is an initiative from the Mental Health Foundation. For more information visit http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/mentalhealthawarenessweek/get-involved/?view=Standard.

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