Cumberland Mental Health and Addictions gardening program promotes physical, mental and environmental health

Gardens at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre.
Gardens at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre.

The mental health and addictions gardening program at Cumberland Mental Health Services has been a way to provide clients an opportunity to plant, nurture and harvest a vegetable garden.

The gardening program is located on the grounds at Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre where clients are able to tend to sections of the garden while attending an individual, or group session with their clinician.

“Clients feel a sense of accomplishment witnessing the seeds grow into healthy, fresh vegetables they are able to take home to eat.” described Louise Cormier, psychologist, Nova Scotia Health Mental Health and Addictions Program. “The gardening program is an activity that is calming and rewarding, and it also allows clients the opportunity to socialize while doing a fun outdoor activity.”

Multiple studies have shown, gardening to be an effective form of therapy that benefits both mental and physical health.

Gardening engages all five of our senses and fosters mindfulness which can help promote recovery. Evidence has shown that gardening and spending time outdoors helps to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, boost immune system and can reduce anxiety and depression.

The program not only helps to develops gardening skills, but also provides increased access to healthy food for clients, that they otherwise might not have access to.

Garden beds at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre.

The garden program also provides clients a supportive and welcoming space while doing an outdoor physical activity which is catered to clients’ abilities and physical limitations.

“The Garden Group meant we could all be together as one group, not only having the vegetables to use at home, but also being able to donate extra to the transition house, the hospital or food banks,” explained Tracey Winters, a client that participates in the gardening program at Cumberland Mental Health Services.

The gardening program takes place weekdays at Cumberland Mental Health Services with five clients who have their own individual section of garden, and a number of other clients tending to fruits, vegetables and a variety of plants and flowers.   

To access Mental Health and Addictions services in the Northern Zone call 1-855-922-1122. The Provincial Crisis Line is available 24/7 by calling 1-888-429-8167.

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