HEAL: Nature for Public Health

Milen A. Guziak

CEO, Co-founder, Creative Director, and Head Instructor
MChem, PhDEng, MScPsy

The benefits of our connection to nature

INCREASED WELLBEING (reduces stress and enhance your mood)
INCREASED HAPPINESS
GREATER PURPOSE & MEANING 
INCREASED PRO-NATURE & PRO-CONSERVATION BEHAVIOURS
The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) picked ‘Nature and the Environment’ as the main theme for Mental Health Awareness Week in 2021.

The released research report  by MHF calls for the importance of connecting with nature when formulating policies regarding mental health.

It includes also a suggestion to make use of biophilic design to engage population with nature through increased accessibility and visibility of nature.

You can read the full report and about national campaign here. 

This 2022’s team for Mental Health Awareness Week is loneliness. The longer we feel lonely, the more we are at risk of mental health problems. 

Pathways to Connecting with Nature

EMOTIONS

SENSES

BEAUTY

MEANING

COMPASSION

I invite you to read this Nature Connection Handbook released by Derby University’s Nature Connectedness Research Group led by prof. Richardson. 

DISCLAIMER. The following describes the real life issues of violence and depression. Some of the content may be distressing for some readers. Read it when you feel ready or scroll down directly for the information about the HEAL: Nature for Public Health project.

Hello there,

I thought it would more appropriate to share my thoughts with you as if I were speaking to you directly. My name is Milena and I am co-founder and creative director of The Mindful Tourist. 

I am in the middle of a depression episode and many things are unfolding and coming together for me at the moment. I suffered from emotional neglect, physical and sexual violence in my childhood and adulthood, which have marked my life experience profoundly. I am in my garden laying down on a blanket. Next to me my notebook and pencil. I am staring at it aimlessly. An innate force is pushing me to grab the pencil and write what is coming through my mind. I am starting to write what you are reading now.

I carry scars and wounds invisible to many that manifest themselves despite my will. Every day is a conscious struggle in doing my best to stay true to myself and nurture self-love. There is no day that I don’t do my best from the place where I am at. The efforts I make are unseen and at times doing my best seem not enough for others.

Finding self-empathy and self-kindness in the forests of Japan have taken me on a healing journey. This may sound strange, but it was the non-judgemental attitude of forests that has opened me to go in. This was for me the first time that I felt unconditional love, which have been providing me little by little with strength.

Isolation, loneliness, fear of being judged, fear of rejection, inability to open or even communicate about it to people closest to you is unbearable. Asking for help feels almost impossible. Depression is not something one can cure, but it can be treated or prevented. There are many tools that one can use towards reorienting the mind – positive coping mechanisms – they may be different for different people. Spending time and connecting with nature is one of them; Shinrin Yoku and Forest Medicine is considered to be a preventive measure towards decreased well-being. 

This a is a breaking moment for me – the acquired fear of expressing my ideas and non-supportive environment have hijacked my courage in many ways. It is hard to notice my depression when you meet me. Now you know that what when you meet me, it is not the whole picture of my being. I am bridging more and more the two world together – the seen and unseen. 

Mental health does not necessarily mean being clinically diagnosed or a mere absence of mental illness, but it is:

“a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”  [1]
“is a dynamic state of internal equilibrium which enables individuals to use their abilities in harmony with universal values of society. Basic cognitive and social skills; ability to recognize, express and modulate one’s own emotions, as well as empathize with others; flexibility and ability to cope with adverse life events and function in social roles; and harmonious relationship between body and mind represent important components of mental health which contribute, to varying degrees, to the state of internal equilibrium” [2]

The world needs healing, thus I presents you with 4 pillars of HEAL: Nature for Public Health. Our compassion must extend indiscriminately  to every member of the society – only then we can heal, only then the nature can heal.

Thank you for ‘listening’. 

Very warmly,

Milena 


[1] World Health Organization. Promoting mental health: concepts, emerging evidence, practice (Summary Report) Geneva: World Health Organization; 2004. 
[2] Galderisi, S., Heinz, A., Kastrup, M., Beezhold, J., & Sartorius, N. (2015). Toward a new definition of mental health. World psychiatry : official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), 14(2), 231–233. https://doi.org/10.1002/wps.20231

Healing the world with HEAL​

Penal System

Most incarcerated people have a history of trauma and suffer from mental illnesses.

We show up with no judgment offering nature and human connection workshops in penal institutions.

Public

Most people already connect in many various ways with nature: green exercise, a walk, etc., but many of them are not aware why. We conduct street projects by simply talking to people to increase awareness about what nature does to us and how it makes us feel.

Education

Children of age 9 to 15 show a decreased nature connection (up to 30%). Mental health has still a taboo status among non-clinical population. Why don't let nature be one of the positive coping mechanisms? We go to schools to conduct Shinrin-Yoku & Nature -Connection sessions for students of all ages and conduct workshops for educators.

Research

There is still more research needed on the role of nature in our wellbeing. We conduct research on the relationship between nature and human well-being.

Contact

We'd love to hear from you!

Write to us to see how we could collaborate to bring nature's gift to your facility.

themindfultourist.net@gmail.com