Growing Healthy Minds

It's not alarmist to state that here in the UK, we are facing a mental health crisis, and the latest figures on children's mental health are concerning. New research from the NHS has shown the rate of probable mental disorders in 7-16 year olds has risen from 1 in 9 in 2017, to 1 in 6 in 2020.

18%

of children aged 7 to 16 years had a probable mental disorder in 2022

Worryingly, NHS data also tells us that urgent referrals for under-18s increased three-fold between 2019 and 2023.

Children need our support

At Trees for Cities we know about the important connection between mental wellbeing and proximity to nature. Young people spend a lot of their time at school, and so it's vital their learning environments are nourishing and an escape from the normal stresses of daily life, especially in urban areas.

Our work with schools puts children's needs and wellbeing at the forefront of our planning. By working in partnership with children and teachers, we reimagine and redesign playgrounds; introducing trees, forest gardens, food growing and outside classrooms. But to do all this, we need your support.

Donate today and help us help schools grow the healthy minds of tomorrow.

Nurturing Children's Mental Health through Green Spaces

Urban school playgrounds are often heavily tarmacked and devoid of nature, failing to provide the essential relief from the noise, pollution and stresses of city living. According to the Association of Play Industries, money spent on children's playgrounds had dropped by almost half (44%) from 2018 to 2021.

Children have an instinctive need to engage with nature, something we see through our conversations with students and teachers. Evidence shows that pupils who spend more time playing and learning in high-quality greenspace can experience improved health and well-being, a closer connection with nature and more environmentally sustainable attitudes.

Children's Voices Matter

This year's theme for Children's Mental Health Week is 'My Voice Matters'. When we go into schools we listen to the teachers and pupils and design a vibrant, healthy oasis that brings joy, sparks curiosity and connects them to nature.

I feel safe and happy in the garden because there’s lots of stuff to entertain us.

Year 3 pupil

Every time I’m frustrated, I can go to the Edible Playground.

Year 4 pupil

Students tending to the plants in their Edible Playground

In the heart of Enfield, we worked with the students at Raynham Primary School to create a new healthy playground, complete with a food growing area and orchard as well as treasured trees, a seating area and more. We incorporated pupils’ wishes into the playground, such as areas for storytelling and colourful flowers, and also worked with them to help map the project.

It's a calm space. Particularly for our Additional Learning needs children who wouldn’t usually communicate with other children.

Lead teacher from Cardiff school

The outdoor learning environment has enriched our learning spaces for our children, and they are now an integral part of our school environment.

Lead Teacher at Raynham Primary School

Students at Raynham Primary School helping with plant placement

Raynham Primary School is just one of many schools where we've supported more inclusive and engaging green spaces. Check out our latest Impact Report for more ways we're inspiring the next generation, and scroll down for resources for both parents and teachers to connect children to nature and help grow healthier minds.

Ready to help us tackle the young people's mental health crisis in towns and cities? Donate to us this Children's Mental Health Week.

To stay informed on our critical Trees for Schools projects and more, subscribe to our monthly newsletter Tree Times, and follow us on social media @treesforcities.

Supporting Children's Mental Health

  • How Learning Outside Improves Wellbeing

    For Children’s Mental Health week, we want to highlight how beneficial it can be for children to have the opportunity to learn outside and connect to the environment and nature.

  • Growing Among Trees

    Explore 'Growing Among Trees,' a 12-month pilot project fostering urban school transformation through community forest and woodland outreach.

  • Trees for Schools

    We run a number of schools programmes to help connect children to tree planting and the world of nature. Learn more here.

  • Edible Playgrounds

    Discover how Edible Playgrounds transform school grounds into vibrant teaching gardens.

School Resources

  • Food Growing Resources

    Choose from curriculum guides, lesson plans and a range of other resources to support you to teach through food growing. Available in both the English and Welsh language.

  • AIR QUALITY RESOURCES

    Air pollution resources to aid with our Planting Healthy Air in Schools programme

  • Tree, Woodland and Nature Resources

    This resource pack has been created by Trees for Cities, Nature Nurture CIC and Sensory Trust​ as part of the ‘Growing among Trees’ partnership project.