Adventure Mind is a ground-breaking new conference whose aim is to promote the positive mental health benefits of adventurous activity.
Adventure Mind is the brainchild of Belinda Kirk, founder of Explorers Connect, and brought together some of the world’s leading researchers, policymakers, practitioners and therapists in the field of mental health to share best practices and support the delivery of adventure in the UK.
Attendees from the two-day conference, which was held between 27-28th February in Hertfordshire benefitted from learning about new research, smarter ways to deliver adventure and how to best assess the impact of their projects.
Some key points:
- 1 in 8 children in England have an identifiable mental disorder (NHS Digital, 2017)
- 2 out of 3 people say they have suffered some form of mental illness in their lifetime
- Outdoor adventure has proven to be a powerful aid in promoting mental health
- Being in nature rebalances the connection we have lost with the environment
- Adventure more powerful an intervention than sport alone
- Benefits of an adventure lifestyle include – increased self-esteem, empowerment, resilience, achievement and reduced social anxiety
We have a mental health crisis in the UK. Mental health impacts every area of society with two out of every three people suffering some from some form of mental illness in their lifetime and an increasing number of children self-reporting.
The burden on the economy is staggering; the cost of mental health problems in England is estimated at £105 billion per year and suicide has risen to be the leading cause of death for men between 15 and 49 (NHS Taskforce Report, 2016).
It’s long been known that being outdoors, being challenged in new ways and being socially active in a supportive environment provides huge benefits and resiliency to emotional and psychological wellbeing. It’s time to actively pursue agendas in government that include the importance of adventure and outdoor pursuits as a means to encourage more participation and spread the knowledge of the importance of activity-based interventions.
A recurrent theme of the conference was that of resilience; how to promote better coping skills and recovery from traumatic experiences via the benefits of pursuing an outdoor lifestyle.
Guest speaker, Sir Charles Walker, KBE MP has been a campaigner for mental health issues and outspoken about his own battles with mental illness. Ultimately, what is required is an adventure policy at the centre of government. It is hoped that the first step has been taken and that as more evidence is produced the case for placing adventure on the curriculum for all children will be undisputable.
If you want to find out more, you can follow the conversation on Twitter or Instagram by searching on the hashtag #AdventureMind or visit the website: www.explorersconnect.com/adventure-mind.
Read more articles on mental health and wellbeing here.