Take a Walk, Be Happy
- Parent Category: Advanced News Lessons
- Category: Environment Lesons
- Written by Chris Cotter
Ecotherapy is being touted as a new, more effective treatment against depression. Advocates believe that it will offer real alternatives to the future of mental health treatments. Physicians would recommend ecotherapy in addition to or in lieu of drugs. Ecotherapy is described as getting outside and getting active in a green environment, all of which boosts mental health.
The University of Essex conducted the study. It compared people who walked thirty minutes in a country park with people who walked for a similar amount of time in a shopping mall. Among those participating in the country walk, 71% reported decreased levels of depression. Ninety percent indicated increased levels of self-esteem, too. This was in sharp contrast to the mall walkers. Only 45% experienced lesser levels of depression. Even worse, 22% actually felt more depressed after the stroll.
In the UK, where the study was conducted, recent statistics point to a massive surge in people prescribed anti-depressant medication. Doctors wrote more than 31 million prescriptions last year, which amounts to a 6% increase. The figures point to a grave future for the mental health of the nation, and it leaves experts worried.
A separate study revealed even more positive results, where a combination of nature and exercise benefited 90% of the participants. GPs need to understand that ecotherapy is a clinically proven option for improved mental health.
Preview some of the lesson material:
Brainstorm: Brainstorm with a partner(s) words and ideas associated with "depression" for 2 minutes. Spend another 5 minutes or less discussing the words and ideas together.
Questions: Answer the questions to check comprehension.
- What is the name of the new treatment for depression?
- What does the treatment recommend?
- Which was more effective against depression, a walk in the country or a walk in the shopping mall?
- According to the article, why are experts worried about the future of UK citizens?
- Why do doctors need to understand more about ecotherapy?
post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!
- Do you think ecotherapy will be effective against depression? Why/not?
- Do you think people will choose ecotherapy instead of medication against depression? Why/not?
- If your doctor told you just to take walks in the park, would you think he is a good or bad doctor? Why?
- Do you consider yourself a happy person? Do you wish you could be happier? Why?
- If you had to guess, which age group is the least happy? Why do you think so?
Google Search: Type "ecotherapy" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.