The Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research & Policy (SCPHRP) vision is to develop Scotland as a leader in public-health intervention research for equitable health improvement through catalysing strong researcher/research-user collaborations that ensure timely, robust, policy relevant research that is created with – and used by – key decision-makers.
Nature Unlimited provides Forest School based sessions across the Scottish Borders. Forest School and outdoor learning programmes have been shown to play a significant role in improving mental and physical health. Participants take part in weekly sessions run in the Forest School woodland area, where they participate in nature based activities based upon their interests, such as craft, traditional skills, and photography.
This project will contribute to the growing literature on Forest Schools and outdoor learning as a therapeutic method for treating mental health and self-esteem issues. Teenage girls have been shown to being especially likely to experience mental health and self-esteem issues during adolescence. The findings from this study could demonstrate the value of Forest School Programs in reducing the mental health burden in the teenage population and serve as an early intervention strategy to be applied in different contexts. Such interventions hold significant potential to ameliorate the mental health and wellbeing of young people, at a formative and impressionable age. It will particularly focus on examining the three main aims of Nature Unlimited; well-being, resilience, and community, factors likely to have a long-term effect on the young people following the programme.
The study has been designed in collaboration with the Nature Unlimited staff, who requested the data collection and study in order to rigorously evaluate their programme and intervention. Adolescent girls who are taking part in the Forest School development program will be interviewed by the primary researcher, Jillian Manner. SCPHRPs Larry Doi, Ruth Jepson and Yvonne Laird are also involved with the study.