Thinking Green walks for mental health in Lochaber

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A new walking group designed to encourage better mental health started this month in Fort William.

The first ‘Thinking Green’ walk took place on Wednesday August 14, when a small group had a gentle wander along the accessible river side path in Glen Nevis, assisted by Dougie Sinclair from the Nevis Landscape Partnership who also shared tales of the ‘Ben’.

‘Thinking Green’ was created by Lucy Cooke, community engagement officer for Skye, Kyle of Lochalsh and Lochaber.

Ms Cooke told Lochaber Times: ‘We felt the warm wind on our faces, watched some fish dancing up the stream, and heard the chatter of a charm of goldfinches.’

One aspect of Ms Cooke’s role is to engage with harder to reach groups of the community.

At a recent engagement around rural isolation, mental health and suicide, participants shared a desire for more opportunities to get outside into nature.

She said: ‘I had discussed green health with the participants, and all agreed that connecting with the natural world and regular exercise was definitely a way to encourage better mental health and physical health.’

Ms Cooke said that words such as suicide, anxiety, depression and loneliness are starting to be used more freely. This openness makes it possible to start addressing ways to look after mental health.

‘There are plenty of wonderful walking groups in the area but this one is aimed specifically for people that experience mental health issues living in Lochaber.  I have seen the success of a similar group in Inverness and would love to have the same for the Lochaber community.’

‘This really is a relaxing group and the walking is very easy.  There are no expectations for anyone that wants to join apart from being respectful to everyone in the group.’

The next walk is being hosted by Support in Mind, meeting at Old Inverlochy Castle on Thursday September 5, at 2pm.  Following the walk there will be refreshments at the Nevis Centre.