Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is the lead organisation in the Our Natural Health Service (ONHS) programme, which aims to make better use of Scotland’s natural environment as a resource to improve health and wellbeing and tackle health inequalities. The programme aims to encourage more people to enjoy and be active in the outdoors, to mainstream green exercise and green health into health and social care policy and practice, and to build capacity and participation within communities. The Green Health Partnership (GHP) intervention is the centrepiece of the ONHS programme, with four partnerships established during 2018/19 to demonstrate how a whole system approach can help translate Scotland’s public health priorities into practical action on the ground. Funded for three years, Green Health Partnerships are operating in different Scottish Health Board areas that include a range of geographies and public health issues.
The work of each Green Health Partnership is different and each is at a slightly different stage of development. In 2019, Scottish Natural Heritage commissioned Edinburgh Napier University to undertake a series of research interviews with those involved in Green Health Partnerships at an operational and strategic level to explore their experience of delivery to date and their thoughts on longer-term mainstreaming of the GHP approach.
- Promoting the use of the natural environment is a good strategic fit with all six public health priorities and the Green Health Partnerships provide a strong powerful voice to raise the profile and awareness of the benefits of green health.
- Employing Green Health Partnership project officers is pivotal to success as they provide focus, knowledge, and time to help develop green health.
- Green Health Partnerships identified a need to engage politicians and healthcare professionals at both a local and national level as green health champions.
- Stakeholders suggested that focusing on the mental health benefits of green health activities would increase strategic importance of the GHPs.
- Appropriate messaging and communication for green health activities, targeting both health and social care professionals, and the population, is a key area for future development.
- Green Health Partnerships should consider how to integrate green health referral pathways into social prescribing services.
- Stakeholders were concerned about the short-term nature of Green Health Partnership funding and about expectations for intervention delivery from third sector, community and voluntary organisations without sustainable and appropriate funding.
- Green Health Partnerships have focused on developing the green health referral pathways suggested in the third pillar of the ONHS approach. These are considered beneficial in targeting those with the largest health inequalities.
Available at: https://www.nature.scot/naturescot-research-report-1212-our-natural-health-service-gathering-views-key-individuals
Hanson, C., McHale, S., Pearsons, A., & Neubeck, L. (2020). Our Natural Health Service - Gathering the views of key individuals with an operational or strategic role in the Green Health Partnership Intervention. Inverness: Scottish Natural Heritage