Gardening For Depression: Doctor's Prescription Needed
Britain's National Health Service (NHS) has been developing some novel strategies for its 62 million health care recipients. One of the latest and most intriguing is in a trial phase now: treating clinical depression with gardening classes at a local nursery. The NHS will pay for an 8-week course of instruction, if you have a prescription from your GP (general practitioner).
Professionals, as well as hobbyists, often refer to the zen -like qualities of gardening. Gardening is also satisfying in other ways: getting involved with the earth, seeing the efforts of your work fairly soon, getting a sense of accomplishment, and being able to admire your plant's beauty or its taste. These accomplishments can be achieved without judgment by anyone else, an experience not often experienced in traditional work environments.
There are 8 persons currently in the program, aged 21 to 60. The test site is run by Mayfield Nursery in Southhampton, a city about 120 km southwest of London on the south coast of England. The 8 week course covers types of plants, soil tests, bugs, plant diseases, and includes lots of hands-on floral and vegetable gardening. And, participants get to take home what they make.
Though the therapy is by prescription only for those with depression, anxiety, or low moods, others are invited to join the course for 144£. Of course you can try this at home, but don't stop taking your medication. Gardening doesn't take the place of medication, but it is hoped that the activity will speed up remediation, so that in the long run, it may save the NHS some money!