Woodland wellbeing groups display John Muir Award photo exhibition

‘Branching Out’ focus on conservation at the Scottish Mental Health Art and Film Festival

Branching out lr detail

Woodland activities structured around the John Muir Award have provided the centrepiece for a photographic exhibition at an arts and film festival that challenges mental health stereotypes and misunderstandings.

Forestry Commission Scotland’s Branching Out programme – for adults who use mental health services – put on the exhibition at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, as part of the Scottish Mental Health Art and Film Festival.

The images on display were based on the Four Challenges at the centre of the Award: Discover, Explore, Conserve, Share.

“The John Muir Award is an integral component of any Branching Out programme,” said Nathalie Moriarty, Branching Out Manager. “Our activities have a natural fit with the John Muir Award Four Challenges. The photography competition was a great way to highlight this partnership.”

Branching Out ­ is an innovative 12-week Scotland-wide programme which each year supports 220 adults across 26 groups to achieve their John Muir Award. The programme celebrates its tenth anniversary next year.

Chris McGeown, John Muir Award Scotland Inclusion Manager said: “We are honoured that Branching Out groups chose to base their photography exhibition on the John Muir Award Four Challenges. This is a good indicator that the structure of the Award is meaningful, relevant and beneficial to mental health service users.”

A strong body of scientific research has found compelling evidence that close contact with nature and wild places can benefit people with mental health issues or early stage dementia. The Conserve element of the John Muir Award is especially useful at giving people a sense of purpose and self-worth, which in turn has a positive impact on health and wellbeing.

The Branching Out photography exhibition ran for the last two weeks of October in the Mitchell Library.