Mental Health Awareness Week: 'I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the garden'

A woman who says she "wouldn't be here" without her garden is urging people to connect with nature to look after their mental health.

Ruth Knight helps tends a communal garden at her sheltered housing complex in Newport.

Ruth has had a 'lifelong affinity with nature" and she wants other people to feel the benefits.

"I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the garden," she said.

"That sounds a bit dramatic but it has done an awful lot for my mental health.

"I can come out here feeling very uptight and that I can't cope with this. And as soon as I get dirt under my nails because I haven't put my gloves on, I'm at peace."

Ruth is supported by the Standing Together Cymru project which aims to improve mental health, wellbeing and build community connections.

A recent survey from the Mental Health Foundation found 72% of Welsh adults said being close to nature improves their mood whilst half said it helped them cope with stress.

For Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 people are being encouraged to connect with nature.Associate Director for Wales at the Mental Health Foundation, Jenny Burns said: “Nature is a powerful ally in protecting our mental health, preventing distress and ensuring good mental wellbeing. 

“During the pandemic, millions of us discovered nature’s power to relieve stress, worry, anxiety and restore us with positive emotions, such as joy. 

“While nature won’t solve all our problems – prioritising time in nature can really help support good mental health. However the most important thing is the quality of our experience, and feeling like we connect with nature by trying to notice it’s beauty and absorb its sights, sounds and scents. 

“We also need to go beyond what we individuals can do, and engage Government, local councils and others in bringing nature to the centre of all our lives.”