Value nature and your own mental health

Jo Jamieson

The upheaval of the past 14 months is the last thing anyone expected. Our bedrooms, kitchens and dining tables were transformed into offices and classrooms, and our gardens and local parks became our entire world, enabling us to cope with the challenges presented to us. As we mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, what’s clear to me is that it has never been more important to create places people love and, more crucially, places where we can connect with nature on our doorstep.  

At Countryside, we value the role nature plays within our communities and have continuously prioritised the need for outdoor space and landscaping, alongside the need for well-designed, high-quality homes. While our streets are the artery to a development, and ultimately the way into a home, our gardens, parks and access to nature is the oxygen that flows through them and ensures there’s life, a sense of belonging and community bonding. This is crucial for our health and wellbeing. This is why, over the past year, we have created 96 new public open green spaces across the country and planted over 2,500 trees into our developments.

It’s not just about the developments we create; it’s also about the location of them. We are conscious about natural areas neighbouring our developments and take great pride in ensuring our residents and the wider community can make the most of them. This makes the likes of Manor Woods near North York Moors and Heyside Grove near the Peak District National Park so unique.

I am the first to admit that nature remains an untapped resource and while we continue to campaign its benefits, more needs to be done. While digitalisation and industrial processes have roles in society and have helped enable a lot of what we do, nature remains a determining factor in the way communities are cultivated.

Our mental health is directly connected to where we live, work and play and nature is central to this – and while the demands on it are evolving, it’s vital it’s carefully preserved and curated to unlock its full potential and maintain a balanced environment in which we can thrive.