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Nature, mental health, and equity. Highlights from the kick-off meeting of the GreenME project

The GreenME project will study how exposure to nature can be integrated in healthcare systems to treat and improve mental health for all.

It officially launched its ambitious initiative at the Kick-off meeting held in Barcelona from January 29th to 31st, 2024. Hosted by the Open University of Catalunya (UOC) and
coordinated by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), the event brought together over 60 consortium members, including the esteemed Advisory Board members, the European Commission’s
project officer Patrizia Tenerelli, and researchers from sister projects (RESONATE and NATURELAB).

During this three-day event, participants had the opportunity to get to know each other and the passion that drives them, while visualising the unique contributions they will make to the project over the next
four years.

Researchers, therapy providers, and municipalities representatives worked together to address the challenges of the project via an insightful collective hands-on exercise, listing burning questions and
providing answers leading to a half-day exchange to identify ways forward. In between sessions, the participants recharged their minds and bodies with walks in nearby parks, mindfulness exercises, and a mandala-making outdoor activity, concretely experiencing how nature benefits mental health. Fun activities engaged the lively consortium; participants were asked to find clever solutions to build Kapla structures using just one finger or to tell their stories through a photographic language exercise!

This Kick-off meeting saw the robust collaboration and exchange of ideas with sister projects RESONATE and NatureLAB, operating under the overarching theme of mental health, nature, and sustainability. The anticipated collaboration is poised to drive forward pioneering research and foster transformative outcomes within the realm of nature-health interactions. Moreover, the Research Synergies workshop held during the Kick-off meeting facilitated dynamic exchanges with researchers from other scientific projects, including BlueHealth, GoGreenRoutes, Dr. FOREST, and PHENOTYPE. By fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, GreenME aims to accelerate progress towards building just resilient and sustainable healthy communities.

A core tenet of the GreenME initiative is the empowerment of green care actors and stakeholders. Recognizing the pivotal role of community involvement in shaping sustainable healthcare solutions, GreenME is committed to actively engaging with and empowering stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle. By fostering partnerships and amplifying the voices of green care advocates, GreenME seeks to cultivate a more inclusive and impactful approach to mental health and well-being. As GreenME embarks on this transformative journey, the consortium is poised to drive forward cutting-edge research, innovation, and collaboration to advance the understanding and integration of nature-based interventions in mental healthcare.

The GreenME Consortium:

In a trans-disciplinary partnership, GreenME involves six European countries, together with the UK
and theUS. GreenME is led by the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB – Barcelona, Spain) and
the GreenME consortium is composed of:

  1. University of Bologna (Bologna, Italy),
  2. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet - Uppsala, Sweden),
  3. ILS Research (Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development - Dortmund, Germany),
  4. Warsaw University of Life Sciences (SGGW – Warsaw, Poland),
  5. Open University of Barcelona (UOC – Barcelona, Spain),
  6. Old-Continent (Brussels, Belgium),
  7. NeuroLandscape Foundation (Warsaw, Poland),
  8. Gesellschaft für Gartenbau und Therapie (GGuT – Hückeswagen, Germany),
  9. Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology (IPIN – Warsaw, Poland),
  10. Scandinavian Nature and Forest Therapy Institute & SHINRIN-YOKU (Stockholm, Sweden),
  11. Eta Beta Cooperativa Sociale (Bologna, Italy),
  12. City of Herne (Herne,Germany),
  13. Spanish Association of Horticulture and Social and TherapeuticGardening (AEHJST – Madrid, Spain),
  14. University of Kent (Kent, UK),
  15. University of Salford (Salford, UK),
  16. Social Farms and Gardens (Bristol, UK) and
  17. Mind in Bexley and East Kent LTD (London, UK),
  18. The US partner is Oregon Health & Science University Portland State University School of Public Health (OHSU-PSU — Portland, Oregon).

The project will last 4 years and is funded by the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme of the European Union.

For more information about GreenME and its initiatives, please visit https://greenme-project.eu
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Launch of GreenME project – Press Release

Press release 01 GreenME  

September 2023 

Launch of the GreenME project; redefining mental health equity through nature-based therapies 

Barcelona, 14.09.2023 - The GreenME project has officially launched its mission to redefine mental healthcare through nature-based therapies. The project, which commenced in September 2023 and is set to run until August 2027, is poised to revolutionize mental health equity understanding and practices across Europe. With partners in Spain, Italy, the UK, Poland, Sweden, Germany and Belgium, it has a budget of almost EUR 6 million. 

GreenME, an acronym for "GreenME: Advancing Greencare in Europe: An Integrated Multi-Scalar Approach for the Expansion of Nature-Based Therapies to Improve Mental Health Equity," is a collaborative effort involving 19 partners from seven countries. These countries include Spain, Italy, the UK, Poland, Belgium, Sweden, and Germany, bringing together a diverse consortium of academic and non-academic organizations. This powerful coalition will harness its collective expertise to address the pivotal intersection of mental health equity and environmental sustainability. 

"We are immensely honored to have been chosen by the EU to lead this ambitious project," commented Margarita Triguero-Mas, Project scientific co-Coordinator at GreenME. "Our project will advance our understanding of the intricate relationship between various levels of green care and mental health equity, all while facilitating the translation of this knowledge into actionable policies." 

Central to GreenME's mission is an exploration of how nature-based therapies can be integrated to nature-health promotion and nature-in-everyday-life to enhance mental health outcomes and reduce inequities. The project takes a comprehensive multi-scalar approach to examine the intricate interplay between mental health, the environment, and societal factors. 

GreenME comprises seven distinct Work Packages, encompassing a wide range of research and implementation activities. These include -among others - assessing the effectiveness of green care interventions and advocating for policies that promote mental health equity and environmental sustainability. With an equal distribution of academic and non-academic partners, GreenME stands prepared to address this challenge from a multitude of perspectives, merging rigorous research with community-driven practical solutions. 

"Our hybrid consortium, equally composed of academics and non-academic partners, is both a significant strength and a unique challenge of our project," Triguero-Mas added. "Yet, we embrace GreenME with enthusiasm, striving for our project to play a pivotal role in shaping just, climate-resilient, and sustainable healthy communities." 

As GreenME embarks on this ambitious journey, it carries the promise of reshaping our understanding of how contact with nature benefit our health, ensuring equitable access to nature-based therapies, and championing the cause of a healthier planet for all.  

In a trans-disciplinary partnership, GreenME involves six European countries, together with the UK. GreenME is led by the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB – Barcelona, Spain) and the GreenME consortium is composed by University of Bologna (Bologna, Italy), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet - Uppsala, Sweden), ILS Research (Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development - Dortmund, Germany), Warsaw University of Life Sciences (SGGW – Warsaw, Poland), Open University of Barcelona (UOC – Barcelona, Spain), Old-Continent (Brussels, Belgium), NeuroLandscape Foundation (Warsaw, Poland), Gesellschaft für Gartenbau und Therapie (GGuT – Hückeswagen, Germany), Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology (IPIN – Warsaw, Poland), Scandinavian Nature and Forest Therapy Institute & SHINRIN-YOKU (Stockholm, Sweden), Eta Beta Cooperativa Sociale (Bologna, Italy), City of Herne (Herne, Germany), Spanish Association of Horticulture and Social and Therapeutic Gardening (AEHJST – Madrid, Spain), University of Kent (Kent, UK), University of Salford (Salford, UK), Social Farms and Gardens (Bristol, UK) and Mind in Bexley and East Kent LTD (London, UK). 

The project will last 4 years and is funded by the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme of the European Union. 

Stay tuned for updates on GreenME’s progress and its transformative impact on mental health equity and environmental well-being. The project’s website and social media will be launched in the coming months. 

For media inquiries, please contact: 

Marta Cayetano Giralt (Project manager)  

pr.greenme@uab.cat  

Antonella Crichigno (media)  

antonella@old-continent.eu