The Green Mental Health Congress “Nature & Mental Health 2021” was (online) well-attended. More than 160 people took part, from the health care, science, nature sector, green and garden sector, and civil society organizations.

Representatives from the regular mental health care and also new entrepreneurs and pioneers exchanged information, expertise and visions on greening mental health care with much enthusiasm.

The chairpersons of the congress, Rob Wolters, executive Nature For Health, and Renske Visscher, director of IVN Nederland Zuid, immediately raised a vital issue: “We dare to state that in addition to enormous challenges such as climate change and biodiversity crisis, there is at least another important topic that needs urgent attention: mental health. Globally, including in Europe and the Netherlands, mental health problems are increasing, as is the claim on the mental health sector. A sector that is itself under increasing pressure. If it continues like this, not only access to clean water and clean air, but especially access to mental health care will be one of the greatest challenges of our time. And the time of our children and grandchildren. The commitment of nature can help us meet this challenge “.

During the congress several researchers (among others Jolanda Maas, Roald Pijpker, Jaap van der Stel etc.) indicated that the scientific substantiation of the importance of connection with nature for mental problems, including burnout and depression, is substantially increasing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has in a recent report argued the importance of nature, green and blue (water), for our mental health, based on analysis of many studies and reports. The WHO concluded that in almost all cases nature works positively for our mental health, both curatively and preventively. This conclusion was endorsed by the representatives in the congress of various health initiatives and organizations, from regular mental healthcare to healthcare farms.

The initiative “Greening Mental Health Care”( “De Groene GGZ”), initiated for The Netherlands by Nature For Health and IVN, together with Green Mental Health and the Outdoor Psychologists (De Buitenpsychologen), was warmly welcomed. Caregivers indicated that treatment and guidance in nature not only adds an extra dimension to the treatment of most clients, but also makes caregivers themselves healthier and more effective.

The congress concluded that the Green mental health movement is growing strongly, gives new energy to people and organizations connected to mental health, and offers good opportunities to increase both the mental resilience of clients and mental health staff, but also the resilence of nature.