Promoting exercise in nature to improve mental health and well-being – a social return on investment study.

Organisation/institution: Centre for Health Economics & Medicines Evaluation (CHEME) at Bangor University.

Key contact: Dr Victory Ezeofor v.ezeofor@bangor.ac.uk

What was the question that we could help with?

The research explored the benefits of increased physical activity levels on health and well-being. It analysed the Outdoor Partnership’s ‘Opening Doors to the Outdoors’ (ODO), a 12-session programme of low-level walking or climbing in nature. Our research examined this example of nature-based social prescribing for those suffering from poor mental health. We wanted to find out whether participants reported improved mental and physical well-being as a result of the programme.

What did we do?

Sponsored by Accelerate Wales and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, HCEC researchers at
CHEME used social return on investment (SROI) methodology to determine the range of SROI ratios for the ODO programme. Participants completed questionnaires on health service resource use, weekly physical activity, and mental wellbeing and attended semi-structured interviews to capture the
full impact of the ODO intervention in their lives.
The ODO intervention aligns with priority four of the Welsh Government’s Together for Mental Health Action Plan for 2019-
2022, which seeks to improve the quality and range of therapies available to people in Wales.

What was the impact?

This study supported the growing interest in nature-based solutions to health and well-being. It identified that social prescribing can help reduce the demand on the scarce resources of the health and social care system. Our evaluation indicated that for every £1 invested in the ODO programme, social values ranging from £4.90 to £5.36 were generated.

Publications:

Makanjuola A, Lynch M, Hartfiel N, Cuthbert A, Edwards RT. (2023). Prevention of Poor Physical and Mental Health through the Green Social Prescribing Opening Doors to the Outdoors Programme: A Social Return on Investment Analysis. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 12;20(12): 6111.

Makanjuola A, Lynch M, Hartfiel N, Cuthbert A, Edwards RT. (2022). OPENING DOORS TO THE OUTDOORS: SOCIAL RETURN ON INVESTMENT ANALYSIS.