by David Feather
Those of us who use the Park appreciate the benefits it has for our mental health. More and more evidence is coming to light to emphasise how important these places are for the health of the community. They are miles better than dispensing pills.
A recent report by university College, London and the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust said that doctors should prescribe fewer anti-depressants and for a shorter time. Trial data had failed to show a “clinically relevant” difference between the drugs and a placebo. Many patients had side effects and withdrawal symptoms. Nearly 8 million people were given at least one prescription in 2019-2020. Unless some restraint is exercised this figure will rise because of the Covid effect. It seems clear that the balance between benefits and harm from the drugs is uncertain and the report recommends reconsideration of the use of anti-depressants.
Some medical authorities in Edinburgh has been trialling the use of what they call “nature prescriptions”, advising patients to take exercise in the parks and countryside instead of popping pills. They are shortly to report the findings of this trial and you can see the presentation on 20 January in a free webinar. To do this go to https://rspb.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_1cPigNr9SBuqkmI7t1mo1w and register your interest.
Instead of pills, we need more places like Southwick Country Park Nature Reserve, as if more and more visitors are encouraged to come here, they will interfere with the comforting environment we currently have.
The Trowbridge Bat Mitigation Strategy in 2019 included a recommendation that a “Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace” (SANG) should be created or enhanced with the specific purpose of absorbing recreation pressure. It stated “As a starting point, Wiltshire Council will therefore undertake a site search, assessment and feasibility study to allocate suitable land in the Trowbridge area for Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspaces (SANG). Once suitable land has been identified, Wiltshire Council will seek to either acquire land, or ensure that land is secured, for the purposes of delivery of one or more SANGs […] sites ideally need to be in the order of 30ha to provide suitably long routes”
Thus far the Friends of SCP have not been told of any move to carry out this policy. It would be reassuring to learn if there was any progress.