Outcome 7: Health and Wellbeing
The South Downs National Park is a well-used and recognised asset for sustaining mental and physical health and wellbeing.
- WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
There is compelling evidence that access to open space and the natural environment improves mental and physical health. Increased physical activity, taken outdoors in a natural environment, closer to nature, has proven benefits for reducing stress and improving general wellbeing.
There are 2.2 million people living in the major urban centres adjacent to the National Park. This diverse population includes a significant number who suffer from health inequalities and deprivation.
By providing opportunities for social interaction activities in the South Downs, we can also help to create a stronger sense of community for those who feel isolated.
For this outcome our priorities for the next five years are:
- 7.1 IMPROVE HEALTH AND WELLBEING
To develop initiatives which enable local communities and individuals to improve health and wellbeing.
The inspiring landscapes, natural beauty and special qualities of the National Park provide a wide range of opportunities for communities and individuals to improve physical and mental health. We will work to make this national and regional asset available to a wider range of people from more diverse backgrounds and locations.
Many partners are already delivering activities through a range of mechanisms and are now developing social prescribing as a way of using the National Park to support improvements in mental and physical health.
The Authority is building a partnership with health bodies and local networks
of providers and commissioners, both in and around the National Park, to
encourage a better appreciation of the potential of the South Downs as a
place for healthy outdoor activity and relaxation, and as a place where
mental health and emotional well-being can be nurtured and supported.
The South Downs Local Plan, and those of neighbouring Local Authorities, also
have a crucial role in ensuring that the built environment and adjacent green
infrastructure provides more opportunities for healthy living.
The GROW project developed from an initial partnership with Brighton & Hove MIND, the National Trust and an independent charitable organisation run by people who’ve got personal experience of mental health issues.
It aims to give people experiencing psychological and emotional distress a chance to recover and feel better through structured and unstructured activities in nature, including nature walks, practical conservation work, helping on the farm, cooking wild food and a range of arts and crafts.
The project runs out of Saddlescombe Farm (near Devils Dyke, Brighton). The Authority will continue to support the project in future years so that its benefits reach a larger number of people.
A new project will be developed to create bespoke communications for health
professionals to get them to better understand the links between contact with nature, and cultural heritage and arts, as a good opportunity for social prescribing.
Working with the NHS and Public Health Teams the project will identify key messages and use appropriate language to support the increase in the use of the National Park for social prescribing.