According to the, communal gardening has noticeably positive effects on mental health in Singapore. The effect is especially helpful for seniors, whose declining health and time of life may cause them to sink into depression. A hands-on connection with nature seems to have tangible, immediate benefits, both to the seniors’ mental outlook and to their levels of energy. In fact, according to a senior occupational therapist at the Institute of Mental Health, “horticultural activities can positively affect an elderly person’s cognition, physical health, psychological state, social interaction and connection with nature.”

Garden Therapy Sessions

A study is currently being conducted by the National Parks Board (NParks) and the National University Healthcare System (NUHS). The research deals with the behaviour and mental state of around 70 seniors, all of them between the ages of 60 and 85. For the study, garden-related therapy sessions occur every week for three months and then every month for three months, spanning half a year in total.

As part of the study, seniors go to various parks throughout Singapore, care for young plants, or use natural elements in art. For example, one week the group made pressed flowers, an activity that is fun, exercises fine motor skills, and results in a lovely piece of natural art that can be used in various ways.

Fresh Air, Fresh Minds

Walking through a garden brings multiple health benefits, both mental and otherwise. The trees in the garden or park act as filters, ridding the air of toxins and pollutants and emitting clean oxygen, enabling the old and young alike to breathe better. The act of walking stimulates blood flow to the brain, heart, and extremities, while the visual stimulation of the greenery helps the seniors to relax and enjoy themselves.

Problem-Solving with Plants

The physical act of gardening – such as planting seeds, watering them, and encouraging them to thrive – actually engages the problem – solving sectors of the brain, particularly the frontal lobe. You have to decide how much water to add, for instance,” explains Associate Professor Roger Ho, the study’s lead investigator. “If the plant is not growing well and dies, the elderly learn to cope and start again.”

Social Connections in the Garden

There’s another aspect to the study that has proven beneficial to seniors in Singapore. Along with the benefits of walking, enjoying nature, and nurturing new life, the elderly get to enjoy each other’s company. They can chat, laugh, and interact while walking or working in the garden. It’s an excellent social outlet and one that has proven highly beneficial to senior mental health in Singapore. Instead of sitting at home, perhaps feeling lonely, unloved, or useless, elderly men and women can socialize with others of their age group and work together to produce thriving plants, whether those plants are edible or ornamental.

Some psychiatrists in Singapore recommend gardening as part of a complete package of activities and therapies to reduce depression and promote mental health. The benefits aren’t just available to seniors; they are readily available for anyone suffering from stress or depression in Singapore. To discuss these and other ways of relieving stress, coping with depression, and handling difficult mental health issues, simply contact Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic today and set up a private consultation.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: Straits Times, August 09, 2016