In The Media This Month - Nature on Prescription
I came across an interesting article a couple of weeks ago, whilst I aimlessly scrolled through my Facebook feed, talking about a new health initiative in Shetland - for those of you reading from outside the UK, Shetland a small archipelago of islands around 100 miles off the North-East of the Scottish mainland.
The article was discussing a new initiative by NHS Shetland where GP’s are now able to “prescribe nature” to their patients.
I found this article fascinating as it’s alluding to something that I think that many of you (particularly the landscape/outdoor photographers) reading this will already know - nature is good on so many levels!
Under the new initiative, doctors on the Shetland Islands can prescribe outdoor activities alongside traditional medications. These activities can include:
Taking a walk in the countryside
Unzipping your hood to feel the wind
Drawing wild flowers
And many other activities outside - photography hasn’t been listed yet, but I’m sure it will be at some point.
This is a fantastic idea on so many levels and when I started looking around online, there are several similar initiatives being run throughout the world. In San Francisco, doctors are now prescribing outdoor exercise for their patients; in Australia and New Zealand, Green Prescriptions are becoming more widespread and even on mainland Britain, doctors have been urged to encourage outdoors and nature activities alongside traditional medicine since 2016.
There is a growing body of scientific research that highlights the many benefits of nature and of outdoors exercise on many medical conditions such as: Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, ADHD, Depression and Anxiety, Long-Term Back Pain and many other physical and mental health conditions.
When I take my photographer hat off and put on my physiotherapist hat, I often recommend nature and walking to my patients as a form of exercise and rehabilitation. The medical evidence is strongly in favour of outdoor activity and I know from personal experience how being outside in nature can give a real mental and physical boost.
I wrote a post last year on the positive effects that landscape photography can have on mental health and I will be releasing a follow-up to this post on Friday that focuses on anxiety and photographing nature. It’s so nice to see doctors and other NHS health professionals coming on board and trying to encourage people to get outside and enjoy the many benefits that nature has to offer.
Hopefully smartphone photography will make the list of recommended outdoor activities prescribed by doctors in the future, as I really do think photography at any level has a lot to offer!