Can sustainable initiatives benefit your team’s mental health as well as the environment?

Sustainability in its truest sense is much more than just an environmental issue. It is also about the sustainability of professions and individual businesses. A truly sustainable business has good team retention and the individuals on the team thrive on the positive team environment.

The role of senior management in a company is to set the culture and strategy and to be the encouragement and enthusiast of the company. This is to help the extended team decide which values ​​to uphold.

In a narrower sense, of course, we mean it as how businesses can help the environment. OneHealth is a current concept that is making waves in the veterinary and medical world and suggests how all health should be viewed holistically. The health of mind and body, including the animals of our world and the environment, add up to a greater sum of its parts.

There is growing evidence that access to nature is good for physical and mental health. Research has shown that people under stress can use green and blue spaces to improve their well-being through walking and exercise.

In a recent webinar at The Webinar Vet’s 10e annual virtual congress, Dr. Catriona Mellor, psychiatrist, introduced the concept of solastalgia which can be defined as a form of emotional or existential distress caused by negative environmental change or worry about what may happen in the future to our planet.

When employees can see that their company cares about the planet and takes positive action to improve local and international areas, it will help them realize that it is still possible to improve our planet if enough people, individually and collectively , make an effort. It leads the employee in the opposite direction of solastalgia. When companies have clear goals to become carbon neutral or to be accredited by Investors in the Environment or the Carbon Trust, employees feel the company exists to do more than just make a profit, but to help all stakeholders. , including themselves and the environment.

Planting wildflowers in the workplace on vacant lots or where more traditional gardening used to be, has been will encourage wildlife like butterflies and bees. Preparing this area and seeing the beautiful flowers grow gives people a sense of accomplishment and also helps slow them down when they want to study the flowers and animals that thrive there.

The benefits of appreciating nature have become so well recognized that GPs have begun prescribing green and blue under the banner of social prescribing.

A recent article in the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust magazine, Waterlife, talked about five ways to welfare well-being in nature:

  1. Connecting with nature and connecting with other people in nature to develop our social relationships. It can also include getting closer to your colleagues while working on nature-related projects as part of your job.
  2. Regular activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety. Even gentle exercise will also exercise the mind.
  3. Being aware of what is in the environment around you and living in the moment will also improve well-being. I remember being in the center of Liverpool and hearing a buzzard screech high in the sky. It lifted my soul.
  4. Learning about wildlife in the company’s wildflower meadow stimulates the mind and can lead to feelings of pride in new knowledge and improved self-esteem.
  5. Getting involved in helping the company achieve its sustainability goals and helping others makes people happier.

In the Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Spring 2022 magazine, Lapwing, it was noted that the green and blue social prescription to a group of people suffering from loneliness, depression and anxiety brought £6.88 of value to participants and society at large for every pound spent. There are many such schemes popping up in the North West of England. As a veterinarian, I’m a big proponent of preventative medicine. Spending time in nature as part of a company’s sustainability activities or as an individual will prevent the person from starting to feel depressed or anxious.

When I feel stressed or sad I often hop on my bike and cycle along the River Mersey among the dunes of Waterloo and Hightown. I love the sights and sounds of the sea and the beautiful plants and animals that live on the coast, as well as exercising and keeping fit. I can recommend it!

Anthony Chadwick is founder and CVO of Alpha Vet International

Anthony Chadwick BVSc CertVD MRCVS graduated from the University of Liverpool in 1990 and obtained his certificate in Veterinary Dermatology in 1995 from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Anthony was involved in the practice of first opinion and dermatology referrals until 2016. In 2010, Anthony created The Webinar Vet, the first online training platform for veterinarians and nurses, with the aim of making more accessible and affordable veterinary education around the world.

Since then, tens of thousands of vets and nurses have accessed the platform from around the world. The first virtual Webinar Vet conference was held in 2013. During the pandemic, The Webinar Vet has helped host over 40 online veterinary meetings and conferences, including WVAC2020 and WCVD9.

In 2021, Anthony took the business carbon negative, helping to uphold The Webinar Vet’s principles of being as sustainable as possible and delivering exceptional quality training, internationally via remote means. Veterinarian Webinar is an Accredited Green Environment Business Investor.

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