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Our wonderful, wild, Hong Kong, and Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May)

How very lucky we are! Out of the total 1,092 km² of Hong Kong land, three-quarters is countryside, with great forests, jungles, rivers, coastlines and grasslands all teeming with wildlife due to the great bio-diversity we have here. Even the urban areas have their fair share of creatures that have adapted to our presence....and not just the cockroaches. Hong Kong has landscapes rising from sandy beaches and rocky foreshores to heights of almost 1,000 metres, with mountain ranges offering a variety of scenic vistas rarely, if ever, matched in so small a territory. And this nature is good for us.

Lets take a moment to think about our relationship with nature during Mental health awareness week, as it is now apparent that what is good for nature, is good for us too!

Our goal with this blog is we want to see everyone taking action to restore nature – for nature’s sake and for ours.

“If we can help people to connect with nature, that’s not just good for them, its great news for nature,” says The Wildlife Trust’s Lucy McRobert. Because, she explains, the more people that care intrinsically for their local environment and value the positive impact it has on their own lives, the more they’ll want to protect it from destruction.

So where is nature on the political agenda? Is it viewed in the same way as health, security and education, or is it doomed to the last bit in the AFCD acronym, and that corporations will always put profit before our natural resources?

Well, the recent conclusion to a huge study following up on a "30 days wild" programme in the UK showed very promising results. This is from the study website: "The study showed that there was a scientifically significant increase in people’s health, happiness, connection to nature and active nature behaviours, such as feeding the birds and planting flowers for bees – not just throughout the challenge, but sustained for months after the challenge had been completed". It adds to a growing body of evidence that shows definitively that we need nature for our health and wellbeing.

For example, children exposed to the natural world showed increases in self-esteem. They also felt it taught them how to take risks, unleashed their creativity and gave them a chance to exercise, play, and discover. In some cases nature can significantly improve the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), providing a calming influence and helping them concentrate.

And for people suffering from physical illness or mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, interacting with nature can help people control their symptoms or even recover, alongside conventional medication.

“Nature isn’t a miracle cure for diseases,” says McRobert, “But by interacting with it, spending time in it, experiencing it and appreciating it we can reap the benefits of feeling happier and healthier as a result.”

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