People in Wales spend less time in nature with clear link to rise in poor mental health

Post covid, a million less people venture outside into nature and it’s harming their mental health as a result.  

An Instagram influencer is encouraging people to take to the great outdoors in a bid to help their mental health post pandemic.

Sarah, who has 15 thousand followers, said that Covid had been a difficult time regarding her mental health, but when she got into the outdoors, “I found dealing with my emotions so much easier and I genuinely started to appreciate and realise how beautiful nature is”.

Apart from the weather, the main reason people give for spending less time outside is due to their poor physical health and busy work lives. This, in turn, is impacting their mental health. 

However, the NHS estimates that more people going outside into green spaces could save £390 million, as less strain would be placed on mental health, obesity and diabetes facilities. 

Sarah, a seasoned walker, recommends to anyone struggling to get back outside, offered this advice, “I think if people are nervous about getting out, especially in more remote places on their own, I’d always say plan a route (or download an app where you can follow a route eg All Trails etc), tell someone where you are heading and how long you are planning on being out for and just make sure you have enough clothing/suitable clothing for the weather. I’d also say have a look in your local area for walking groups”.

So why are a million fewer people heading outdoors?

As well as poor physical health keeping people inside, 20% of people said their busy work schedules play a role in keeping them away from the outdoors. Another barrier mentioned by those struggling to make time to spend in nature, was busy home lives- more than 22%.

In Wales, visits to the outdoors have fallen in the past 10 years. Time spent by people in the Welsh outdoors has fallen by over 50% in the past decade. Collectively, people in Wales spend five hundred million less hours outside than they did 10 years ago.

The ONS along with the NHS have found a clear correlation between health benefits and spending more time outdoors. Yet as less people take time to visit the great outdoors, mental and physical health is negatively impacted and this puts more strain on the NHS services.

Mind- the UK’s leading mental health charity- has said mental health has worsened since covid. But research has found Being out in the open can also make us calmer, with 66% saying it makes them more inclined to take more care of their wellbeing.  

Therefore, getting outside into the outdoors, into natural and green spaces and into national parks could do wonders not just for the NHS but also for your health. 

Sarah said, “You don’t have to be hiking up mountains, some of my favourite walks are short walks around my local area”.