The gardening scheme was established at Cross Lane Hospital several years ago, as an activity for people staying there to get involved in activities intended be therapeutic.
A vegetable patch was established, along with flower growing and chickens were introduced, with the scheme operated as a joint project between the NHS and North Yorkshire County Council, with the county council’s Support Time Recovery Worker, Paula Boulton, helping to make sure the scheme runs smoothly, by making weekly visits.
It was set up to benefit those staying in the Aykbourn Unit, but is not restricted to them, as members of the community are now involved.
Paula said the gardening sessions had multiple benefits, getting people out for exercise and to socialise.
“It is about getting social contact so people are not isolated, as well as building up their confidence and self-esteem. It definitely makes an impact on their well-being.
“There is a transition for people leaving the hospital; they have the option to come back and remain involved in the gardening group,” said county council Mental Health Service Manager Elaine Hewitt. “They provide peer support for people who are still staying at the hospital, it is a recovery-based activity,”
Now a hunt has been launched to find a vacant allotment in the area which would allow the gardening group to expand their growing activities further.
As a further development, a new collaboration, with the Crescent Arts group in Scarborough will see those at Cross Lane – a hub for mental health services on the North Yorkshire coast - being offered the opportunity to express themselves through art.
The activities will be digitally focused and designed for those with mental health needs.
It will run on the wards and will be monitored to look for ways to adapt it to branch out into the local community.
The county council will support the project, which is also funded by the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.
Elaine Hewitt said: Sometimes people with mental health issues can be excluded so this is about making it more accessible to all,”
“When someone is at a time when they are mentally unwell it can be difficult for their emotional well-being as most people with mental health conditions have experienced some kind of trauma.
“Art allows an opportunity for people to express emotions around experiences they find difficult to talk about.
“It provides a kind of distraction. Therapy through art also allows people to feel included.”