Social farming: Taking a nature based approach to young people's mental health
PHE ePoster Library. Hambidge S. Sep 10, 2018; 221236; 219
Dr. Sarah Hambidge
Dr. Sarah Hambidge
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Abstract
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Abstract Introduction: This longitudinal study examined whether a one year long farming intervention can prevent young people with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties from low-socioeconomic backgrounds becoming NEET (Not in Employment, Education and Training) at sixteen years of age. The aim was to identify who this initiative worked for, how and why, in order to help them to remain in education, employment or training and to improve their physical, mental and social health.Method: A mixed-method approach was used to explore the experiences and perceptions of both young people attending the farm and staff delivering the intervention. The data were captured using a validated questionnaire pack and semi-structured interviews, at baseline, six- and nine- months, triangulated with observational fieldwork. The RE-AIM evaluation framework was used to contextualise these findings.Results: The results showed the farm was perceived as an inclusive environment, which resulted in a significant reduction in self-reported mental health risks (stress, depression, anxiety) and behavioural regulation difficulties; improved social relationships and coping; increased contact with nature and the natural environment; improved life and work skills; and, promoted re-engagement with learning and less disaffection with society.Conclusion: The use of the natural environment, as the mechanism for change, was found to be effective in lowering mental health risks and improving social outcomes leading to less risk of participants becoming NEET. The data from this study provides evidence to support social prescribing, which enables GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer young people to local, green based non-clinical services.
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