This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the theme is nature. Diverse Cymru, with support from the Welsh Government through the Section 64 third sector mental health grant, runs a project called HYPE Cymru, which supports young people in Wales to improve their mental health with outdoor activities. Zahrah Bashir, who runs this project, tells us how it’s going.
A key success of HYPE Cymru has been introducing Green Prescription to young BAME people and their families where some have never ventured out of the area they live and have now been introduced to other parts of Wales.
Our green prescription involves taking young people out on walks in groups, from the Shed, schools, youth clubs and community centres in our four areas. The young people have trips just for their age groups. We also acknowledge the importance of family walks and ran several walks for families. Our green prescription activities have taken us on walks to Caerphilly Castle, the Devils’ Bridge, Caldey Island and various other green spaces in Wales. This is our 5th year running green prescription activities. During our last project we had great feedback from young people and parents as we have again on this project.
The green prescription activity helps enable young people with the knowledge of places to walk close to home and further afield. We give them the tools and confidence to walk the Taff trail, the Welsh coastal path and even conquer Mount Snowdon. It has helped some people change their environment whilst encouraging others who find it difficult to get out to join in and get involved.
On every green prescription activity the young people are given a HYPE Cymru bag, filled with mental health information from local organisations (as well as from our own project), and the means to write down any thoughts on the day if they wish, how they are feeling and what they got out of the green prescription activity. They don’t have to share this with anyone – some do, some do not, some send a message later on. During these activities young people don’t need to talk about their mental health if they don’t want to. However, every time we are out, we are always told by young people how our work has had a positive impact on their physical and mental health.
Due to financial constraints young people are not able to access some activities normally. HYPE Cymru makes sure young people can experience things without any financial constraints. Some of the activities we have helped young people enjoy include:
Taking young people to the theatre to help break barriers facing young people getting involved in the arts,
Enjoying different activities including water activities, such as rafting and surfing down Cardiff Bay,
High rope activities across Cardiff,
Taking a group of young people race-car driving,
Trying out dry slope skiing activities.
Young people who are involved with our project have requested particular walks and visits, making Green Prescription a group project with involvement from everyone from the Youth Worker, to the young people, and parents.
Young people have said really positive things about the project:
Pen y fan was an accomplishment it made me feel good knowing I got to the top, I can understand how walking makes you feel better just getting out and about and not listening to music, watching television or playing Xbox. It was different and stimulating it made me think a lot more. I realised I am stressed and anxious about my exams. I need to take time out and look after myself.
It was great to be away from the norm of my house and area it made me feel better even though I felt very tired I enjoyed it.
The green prescription activity really helped me I have been coping with my depression but not realising its actually a lot worse, when I was walking with the group and talking to the youth worker I realised how low I have been.
To find out more about the project, you can get in touch at email@example.com.