As told by Rtr. Lakshani Pathirage
Every gardener instinctively knows that puttering around with your plants can have a profoundly uplifting effect. The mental health benefits of gardening tend to be underestimated, but they definitely exist. Our gardens confer a special kind of serenity upon us which is often hard to come by in our frenetic, pressured world. It is only in recent years that doctors and mental health professionals have begun to truly delve into the healing potential acquired through gardening. The studies being conducted are shedding light on an underutilized method for mental health care that’s as close to you as your own backyard.
Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.Luther Burbank
Going beyond the concept of facilitating an ordinary hospital, the project “Heal the Mind” addressed many issues faced by a specific set of patients who have been diagnosed with mental illnesses. The project primarily aimed to uplift the condition of De Soysa District Hospital, Lunawa, Moratuwa in order to help those patients to obtain their medications in a favourable environment by building a garden and providing necessary gardening equipment for their horticultural treatments.
As the first step of this meritorious endeavour, we raised funds through donations, sponsorships and also by selling pens. On the 17th of March, we successfully completed the initial step of the project by building a fence around the garden with the generous support of MAS Active Linea Intimo Private Limited. Then, on the 24th of March, we conducted a Shramadana Campaign to clean the garden premises. Finally, as the last step of the project, we donated vegetable plants and seeds, gardening equipment and fertilizer on the 8th of May. The psychiatrist of the hospital, Dr. Chinthaka Sanjeewa shared the experiences he has gained throughout his years of practice with us and also thanked and appreciated us for our support.
The physical element of gardening improves our physical health and releases mood-enhancing endorphins. At the same time, exercise is a common recommendation to combat depression, and gardening can be a substitute for a trip to the gym. Thus, it was a very worthy chance for us to extend a lending hand to psychiatric patients, who are yearning for love and care. In addition to that, I am glad to say the project “Heal the Mind” taught us a good lesson to be a nature lover as we experienced the profits of gardening.
The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul. –Alfred Austin