Woodland walks save UK £185m a year in mental health costs, report finds

Posted: December 13th 2021


In these difficult times something to cheers us all up. This story tells us:

Walks taken by people in UK woodlands save £185m a year in mental health costs, according to a report.

Spending time in nature is known to boost mental health, but the report by Forest Research is the first to estimate the amount that woodlands save the NHS through fewer GP visits and prescriptions, reduced hospital and social service care, and the costs of lost days of work. The research also calculated that street trees in towns and cities cut an additional £16m a year from antidepressant costs.

The researchers believe the true savings are likely to be significantly higher. The report shows the importance of woodlands, they said, which the government is already aiming to expand to tackle the climate and wildlife crises.

The coronavirus pandemic has increased the prevalence of mental illness, and the NHS was already increasing its spending on treatments. This includes green social prescribing, where activities including nature visits are used to help sufferers. In polling by Forest Research, more than 90% of respondents said woodlands were important to them in reducing stress.