£1m grows on trees for mental health research

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SCIENTISTS in the Capital have been handed nearly £1 million to investigate the link between spending time in the woods and a person’s health.

Openspace, an Edinburgh University centre which studies the impact of the outdoors on wellbeing, said the work could improve the lives of some of the country’s poorest people.

As part of the scheme, people from some of Scotland’s poorest zones will have their quality of life examined after nearby woodlands are regenerated.

Links between trees and mental health are already widely accepted as therapy for psychiatric patients, but this study would see that link extended.

Catharine Ward Thompson, director of Openspace, said: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study how changes to natural environments like woodlands, close to where people live, can make a difference to their lives, and their mental health in particular.

“We can produce evidence of the highest standards to test the effectiveness and value of projects like Woods In and Around Towns for people who live in stressful circumstances because of poverty.

“Since 83 million people across Europe experience poor mental health and, in Scotland alone, the costs of that are some £10.7 billion, this is vitally important work.”