John Muir Award Story - Empowering people through the power of nature

Published: 27th November 2017

Adults recovering from long-term mental health problems reflect on engaging with nature

Branching Out is a 12 week programme developed by Forestry Commission Scotland to support adults recovering from long-term mental health problems. Delivered in partnership with organisations from environmental and mental health sectors across Scotland, it aims to improve the quality of life for participants through a holistic programme of woodland-based activities.

Since 2008, the John Muir Award has been integrated into the Branching Out programme, providing a framework for a range of outdoor activities and valuable recognition of individual achievements, helping to boost confidence and self-esteem. Over 1,900 John Muir Discovery Awards have been achieved by Branching Out participants across Scotland.

Earth for Life is a social enterprise that use the Branching Out programme to empower adults through environmental education and eco-therapy. Through activities such as woodland walks, foraging for wild foods, creating mandalas from natural materials and removing invasive species, participants are supported to explore the benefits of spending time outdoors and to appreciate and enjoy their local wild places.

Read how spending time in the woods makes participants feel through their magazine at the link below.

To find out more about how the John Muir Award can help deliver health and wellbeing benefits, see our Five Ways to Wellbeing publication and our Health Impacts and the John Muir Award research summary.