Nature must play an important role in mental health care. Various mental healthcare institutions in the Netherlands agree that green spaces can be used to treat all kinds of psychological problems. This became clear during the webinar “Green Mental Health Care”, organized by Nature For Health & IVN Nature Education together with Green Mental Health on 22 April 2021.

More than 70 partners from mental health care, including several large mental health institutions, in The Netherlands and Flanders (BE) took part in the online meeting, with which the initiators want to start a green movement in mental health care. The underlying proposal “Green Mental Healthy Care” was embraced by many parties. Several mental health care institutions have already indicated that they would like to become a ‘Green Forerunner’ and want to get started to make full use of nature as a source of mental health.

Nature For Health, IVN and Green Mental Health see a number of important developments that are necessary to make mental health care greener. First of all, the treatment room has to go outside. In addition, institutions could open their often large green areas to local residents for more contact with the neighborhood. Also practitioners of institutions that do not have a green area themselves can go outside with their clients, almost everywhere there is a piece of nature within walking distance. The sites of mental health care institutions can also contribute to realizing biodiversity and climate targets.

“Very nice to see that nature is finally starting to come to life as a source of mental health,” says Renske Visscher, regional director of IVN and responsible for Nature & Health. “There are more than 70,000 studies on the shelf that indicate the importance of nature for health. It is good that these are no longer ignored. “

“It is amazing how few people with mental health problems go outside, while many mental health care institutions have traditionally been located on large green areas,” said Rob Wolters, executive of

The sites can therefore be used much better and arranged differently in some places. One client, for example, needs vast landscapes, while the other benefits much more from lively nature in order to derive thoughts, in which all kinds of things can be seen and experienced. This “healing environment” is also part of the “Green Mental Health Care” proposal.

The project “Green Mental Health Care” will be elaborated in the coming months to be launched on September 30, 2021 at the (Dutch language) conference “Nature and Mental Health 2021.