Gain experience on a real working farm to develop animal husbandry knowledge, gardening and vegetable growing skills and learning good health and safety practices. Research has shown the benefits of being with animals, the publication from Newport Academy reads:
Early Research on Pets and Mental Health
The first research on pets and mental health was published 30 years ago. Psychologist Alan Beck of Purdue University and psychiatrist Aaron Katcher of the University of Pennsylvania conducted the study. Therefore, they measured what happens to the body when a person pets a friendly dog. Here’s what they found:
Blood pressure went down
Heart rate slowed
Breathing became more regular
Muscle tension relaxed.
These are all signs of reduced stress. Therefore, the researchers had discovered physical evidence of the mental health benefits of pets and animals.
Moreover, interacting with a friendly animal reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. And it increases the release of oxytocin—another chemical in the body that reduces stress naturally. That’s why animal-assisted therapy is so powerful.
Mental ill-health is on the rise and in England it is estimated that in any one year at least 1 in 4 people will experience a ‘significant’ mental health problem, and due to the current pandemic and lockdown this figure will most definitely increase. The report by Natural England in 2016, suggests that green care interventions can provide an increasingly important and cost-effective way of supporting mental health services.
The report focuses on the 3 main green care interventions that are currently helping people in England who have mental ill-health: care farming; environmental conservation; and social and therapeutic horticulture.
The report presents evidence that shows that projects in each of these areas are already making a difference to people’s lives and bring a range of positive benefits for those with existing mental ill health. These include a reduction in depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms, and an improvement in dementia-related symptoms.
The report also shows that people involved in these types of green care activities have a greatly increased level of social contact and inclusion; as well as a sense of belonging and personal achievement.
Then Environment Minister Rory Stewart said:
Mental health is one of the most serious and complex issues that we face in Britain today and it is great that we now have clearer scientific evidence that nature is so beneficial for our minds and our sense of self.