Trampers connecting with nature
Image: Laura Honey | DOC

Introduction

The important role nature plays for people’s mental health has been highlighted by conservation leaders internationally – just in time for Mental Health Awareness Week.

Date:  25 September 2020

Last week, DOC Director-General Lou Sanson hosted a World Protected Areas Park Leaders virtual forum, involving a range of park leaders across the globe.

“Most countries took a similar approach to tackling Covid-19 by implementing travel prohibitions. What they’ve seen as a result is an increase in people exploring their own backyards and national parks and spending more time walking or camping in natural landscapes,” he says.

“It’s highlighted just how universal people’s connection with nature is, and how particularly important it can be in times of stress and uncertainty.”

The connection Kiwis feel to nature in Aotearoa has also been highlighted by the results of a New Zealander’s in the Outdoors survey released earlier this week. In this survey, 41% of respondents considered mental health a key benefit to spending time outdoors.

Survey highlighting motivation for time in the outdoors.

“We’re lucky in Aotearoa that we have such a huge wealth of nature and recreation facilities such as tracks, huts and campsites, to get out into – it’s part of our culture,” says Lou Sanson.

“During this year’s Conservation Week we invited people to look at nature through new eyes with a spotlight on wellbeing. Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 – Reimagining Wellbeing is a great way to continue that by connecting positively with the natural environment surrounding you.”

Wellbeing the focus of Conservation Week 2020 media release.

Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation Shaun Robinson says “Mental Health Awareness Week is a time to do those small things that can make a difference to ourselves and our whanau.”

“Take walks at different times of the day and observe the changes in nature. Take notice of how these small moments with nature make you feel and energise you.”

Find natural places where you can reconnect with nature on public conservation land and water.

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 21 to 27 September this year.

More information about Mental Health Awareness Week.

Contact

For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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