Allotments improve mental health.
A major survey of plot holders in Brighton and Hove, just completed in October 2013 shows that 92% of plot holders either agreed or strongly agreed that allotments improved their mental health or provided stress relief. 53 % strongly agreed and 39% agreed. According to the survey 4500-5000 people regularly use the allotments in Brighton and Hove.
In the same survey a similar high percentage emphasised the benefit allotments gave through general exercise. 36% of plot holders in Brighton and Hove are aged between 40 and 49. The 40-50 year old age group is notoriously difficult to engage in health related activities.
These statistics were reinforced with individual comments that included:
“For me it’s about remaining sane”
"Best de-stresser ever and so gratifying"
“I live in a flat in one of the most polluted areas of town, there is constant noise and I have no outdoor space. When I was mentally ill last year my allotment helped me get back on track. I have always valued and enjoyed having the allotment but it really hit home how much I need it and value it , when I was so poorly. "
“Having an allotment has helped me immensely with depression and has brought purpose and much pleasure to my life"
An ex plot holder told us
“It’s a place I could go and relax even if I was digging. I did not need to take any anti- depressants. Now I am back on 150 grams a day, I hope this answers the question. "
In earlier evidence provided to the Strategy steering committee it was revealed that the NHS estimates that the wider economic cost of mental illness in England has been estimated at £105 billion per year.
This is equivalent to £2,000 each year for every man woman and child in England.
"The new strategy must make allotments stress free and ensure that more people who want to improve their mental health can enjoy allotments."
Alan Phillips, Chairman of the Brighton and Hove Allotment Federation.
Brighton and Hove City Council invited the Allotment Federation to be co- partners with it in developing a city wide allotment strategy. This survey is part of the consultative process of all the 3102 plot holders in the City, ensuring that the strategy is evidenced based and representative of Allotmenteers. It was funded by the Council and professionally outsourced. It attracted a remarkably high response rate of 902 respondents. It is planned that the new draft strategy will be presented to the City Council and Allotmenteers in spring 2014.