Botanic Gardens manager Neville Capil says gardening 'good for the body, good for the mind'
People are being encouraged to get out into nature for the good of their health.
The theme of Mental Health Awareness week is 'Nature is the Key'- and someone who spends a lot of time in South Canterbury's outdoors is backing that message.
Timaru Botanic Gardens manager Neville Capil said there were proven benefits to "being one with nature", such as behavioural changes in people who had disorders like ADHD.
"When they are working with plants, they actually change," he said.
Being in control of their surroundings made a difference, Capil said.
"The plants are dependent on them."
In the UK, where Capil is from, doctors prescribed gardening to their patients because of its positive mental health effects.
"A lot of papers have been written about the smell of the grass after it's been cut."
Gardening was also thought to reduce mental decline in old age, and to relieve stress.
"I think it's just being one with nature."
The Botanic Gardens in Timaru had a "therapeutic" herb garden, close to the entrance of the Alzheimers Services Centre.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, getting into the natural world made people feel happier and more optimistic, restored people when they felt run-down, reduced stress, and improved life satisfaction.
Gardening was "good for the body, good for the mind, and probably the soul", Capil said.
He worked as a gardener for 14 years in the UK before moving to Timaru last year.
He had heard of bankers and accountants leaving their professions and taking up gardening jobs, because they were stressed and were not enjoying their work.
Some mental health organisations overseas would also encourage the people who used them to get into gardening work for a couple of days a week.
Regional council Environment Canterbury (ECan) was also encouraging people to get into the great outdoors this week.
ECan and Te Rūnanga O Arowhenua are inviting members of the public to come along to learn more about restoring the flax and pukio wetland on October 14.
Department of Conservation Geraldine office manager Chris Coulter said when it came to places to walk around South Canterbury, she recommended Peel Forest, near Geraldine, and Mt Nimrod Scenic Reserve, south of Timaru - which featured some impressive waterfalls.
ECan spokeswoman Kate Doran said there was plenty of information online for people to check out where they could enjoy being close to nature locally.
Popular spots included Otipua Wetlands, Waitarakao (Washdyke) Lagoon, and the region's four key rivers.
Lake Tekapo Regional Park, in the Mackenzie District, was also well worth a visit.
WHERE TO GET HELP
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Lifeline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 354
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Samaritans (open 24/7) - 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
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Kidsline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 754. This service is for children aged 5 to 18. Those who ring between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays will speak to a Kidsline buddy. These are specially trained teenage telephone counsellors.
Your local Rural Support Trust - 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)
Alcohol Drug Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691 for free.
- The Timaru Herald