About Green Health

What is Green Health?

Green Health brings together the wellbeing of people and the environment.

It is not a new concept, fresh air and contact with nature have long been appreciated in healthcare settings. Many of us have benefited from stepping outside of a busy hospital to take a deep breath and walk in the grounds. Hospital courtyards and gardens create therapeutic spaces for patients and breathing spaces for staff. In our communities, local parks, gardens and nature reserves connect people with wildlife and create places to work and play together.

The mission of NHS Lothian Charity is to support NHS Lothian to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Edinburgh and the Lothians. The Charity’s Green Health programme aims to do this by making the most of the natural environment and our connection to it.

Our work focuses on enhancing the NHS Lothian estate and connecting more patients and staff to therapeutic activities within it. In the wider community we are working to develop more sustainable models of care through green social prescribing.

Green Social Prescribing

How can nature help health?

Contact with nature and good quality greenspace improves health.

There is an ever increasing body of evidence showing the positive impact that contact with nature can have on physical and mental health. The World Health Organization report Urban Greenspaces and Health summarises evidence on the beneficial effects of urban greenspaces, including:

  • improved mental health
  • reduced cardiovascular morbidity and mortality
  • reduced obesity and risk of type 2 diabetes
  • improved pregnancy outcomes.

For some health conditions, particularly mental health, research shows that greenspaces can help reduce negative health impacts of socio-economic inequality. This means that the benefits of greenspace are greater for those worst off in society.

We are working across the whole healthcare system to embed this approach into everyday activities. Working with greenspace scotland, NHS Lothian Charity published the Greenspace and Health: Strategic Framework for Edinburgh & Lothians. The framework sets a policy context and evidence review for this work and brings together the wide range of activities and partners under a shared vision to make the most of the NHS estate as a community health and climate change asset.

Find out more about what we are doing across NHS Lothian

Green Social Prescribing workshop

Nature Heals

Nature heals. It’s a simple statement, a simple message, but sometimes the simple things are the most powerful. I’m a […]

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RIE Panda Courtyard bunting

Grateful for greenery

At just 23-years-old, Ria O’Hanlan found herself in hospital fighting for her life. The occupational therapy student went from experiencing […]

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Nurturing our natural health service

In 2019, I joined NHS Lothian as part of NHS Lothian Charity. The Charity’s mission is to enhance the lives […]

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Green Social Prescribing workshop

Pathways to green prescribing in Midlothian

For public health nurse, Tracy McLeod, going green is all about helping people to live well and have a good […]

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How can we help nature?

To tackle the climate and ecological crisis we need to make the most of our assets

We need to ensure any development leaves biodiversity in a better state than it was before and make sure more of us understand and value the role that nature plays in our lives. The NHS outdoor estate is a valuable asset and we need to make the most of it.

The plants that are grown on the NHS estate (especially trees, hedges and scrub) capture carbon from the atmosphere, offsetting human emissions, and cleaning the air of pollution from nearby roads and car parks.

The green landscape also provides habitats for diverse species, as well as providing nature-based health interventions such as gardening and walking activities, helping to improve the lives of NHS patients and staff.

pollinators - a badger
Pollinators – a badger

Our Publications

Our own Green Health Strategy outlines how we as a Charity will achieve our vision of realising the potential of the NHS outdoor estate, supporting enhancements and activities that benefit patients, visitors, staff and communities and help fight climate change and biodiversity loss.

Document: NHS Lothian Charity: Green Health Strategy (2.5MB)


Supplementary information

Green Social Prescribing Report

Midlothian Green Social Prescribing Project

Evaluation: Full report (2.2MB)

  • Evaluation Report written by Matter in Focus.

Project Partners: Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnership, Health in Mind, Ageing Well, Cyrenians, MAEDT

Written in partnership with:

Connect to our network to learn and share

If you feel passionately about the benefits of nature and their potential in addressing health inequalities, join our Green Health Network. All you need are a few good ideas, a little time to spare and a willingness to be involved with promoting and supporting green health activities across the Lothians.