A long way from C.S.Lewis’ “If I say it three times it becomes true”. In this case there has to be a book, a movement, a report, an inquiry….before we recognise what’s right in front of us. “35,000 children in England are being prescribed anti-depressants” might be a bit of a hint. The article is well worth a read.
The full article can be read from the link above
“The UK deficit hit the headlines this July with the announcement of a 0.7% shrinkage in the economy. Beyond the economic short-fall however, there appears to be another, more sinister deficit at work; one which is thought to be costing the nation in terms of physical and mental health, compromising well-being whilst causing long-term social and psychological damage to our youngsters; this deficit involves the shrinkage of our children’s natural experiential landscapes.
As play, youth and environment workers at the Heartwood Project, a woodland based initiative close to the city of Bath, it has grown increasingly evident to us over recent years that a paradigm shift has taken place in the experience of childhood in the UK. The National Trust has recently commissioned a research initiative entitled ‘Natural Childhood’ which considers the presence, causes and consequences of ‘Nature -Deficit Disorder’; not a condition which commands a catchy acronym and a prescription from the doctor, rather it is descriptive of a limited interaction with the natural world and calls quite simply for a remedial return to nature. ……. Examining three specific categories: ‘physical health problems including obesity, mental health problems, and children’s growing inability to assess risks to themselves and others’, Moss has affirmed that ‘a generation of children appears to be suffering from a lack of contact with the natural world, with serious consequences both for themselves and for society as a whole.’
The report cites the ‘Good Childhood Inquiry’ which reported in 2009 that children in the UK were experiencing an ‘epidemic of mental illness’ and revealed that around 35,000 children in England are being prescribed anti-depressants. Such disheartening news is increasingly being linked to childhood disconnection with nature. It seems there is no substitute for the teachings of the natural world. Nature’s lessons are direct, multi-sensory, exciting and real, breaking through the often over-structured play and learning experiences of many children and young people today. The freedom to imagine, experiment, create, take appropriate risks, wander, dream and play is inherent to outdoor play. Nature does not offer an instruction manual or limit our sensory stimulation but instead allows the process of discovery to unfold, encouraging balanced personal development and health……”