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Mental Health Awareness Week

Connecting With Nature

This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme this year is nature, exploring the benefits of connecting with nature for our mental health. Research has shown that nature can have a positive impact on some mental health problems and, according to the Mental Health Foundation, 45% of people surveyed reported that being in green spaces had been vital for their mental health during the pandemic. We know that connecting with nature alone is not going to cure all mental health issues, but we wanted to take a moment to recognise the healing power of nature and the huge benefit it can have for many people.

In Bristol, we have lots of nature spaces; from the babbling brooks of Snuff Mills to the expansive greenery of Ashton Court, there are so many pieces of nature scattered around the city. Bristol is home to over 400 parks, around 600, 000 trees and over 100 waterways. It is not just the big green spaces, but also the small parks dotted in the built up, urban areas which give people access to nature on their doorstop.

We are also aware that not everyone has access to green spaces. The Mental Health Foundation found that 37% of people with a long-term health condition or disability which limits their daily activities ‘a lot’ were unable to physically access nature because of their health.1 There is also a disparity in access when it comes to wealth, with people from the most deprived areas having significantly less green spaces compared to people in the most affluent areas. We join the Mental Health Foundation in calling on Local Authorities to increase the number of green spaces available to people and to ensure that these spaces are accessible.

To mark the theme of this week, we have put together a list of some of our favourite spots in Bristol. For more information about accessible spaces in Bristol, please visit: https://www.accessable.co.uk/ or https://bristol-barkers.co.uk/posts/accessible-walks/ (please note, we are not responsible for any external content.)

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Troopers Hill

A beautiful nature reserve in the heart of St George. The area, home to an array of wildlife and the distinctive chimney, overlooks Bristol and on clear days you can see across the city.

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Bristol Harbourside

A gem that makes Bristol City Centre all the more special. You can travel along the docks, breathing in the calming view of the water. The area can get very busy at the weekend and is a great place to people watch and connect to a different kind of nature than the green spaces our city offers.

Netham Park

Chosen not just for the beautiful sunsets you can witness when sitting on the grass, but also for what it represents – a green sanctuary nestled in a built up, urban area. The park is popular with amateur football and cricket clubs, and is never normally too busy.

Conham River

A long, winding route along the river. You can follow the path the whole way to Hanham, leaving the city and the noise behind as you walk. It is beautiful any time of year, but especially so in the winter when the frost creates an ethereal, almost-Narnia like landscape.

Ashton Court

This list would not be complete without a mention of Ashton Court. An 850 acre country estate which sprawls across the outskirts of the city, it is a great place to connect with nature and feel like you are escaping the hustle and bustle.

1https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/MHAW21_POLICY_ENG_0.pdf

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