TAKING a break in the great outdoors has been proven to improve mental health.

And St Nicks has embraced the importance of nature for wellbeing with their successful ecotherapy programme.

The project, which has been running for the past three years and has helped more than 240 people, includes a range of activities from gardening and growing fruits and vegetables to more unusual courses in creative writing and woodworking.

The scheme has just been awarded more than £300,000 of extra funding from the National Lottery for the project to continue for the next five years.

Thomas Waring, chief officer at St Nicks, said: “The project has already improved the lives of so many people and we’re delighted that we’ll be able to help so many more.

"Thanks to the money raised by National Lottery players, we’ll be able to provide ecotherapy activities to improve the mental health and wellbeing of local people for the next five years."

While the activities boost people's mental wellbeing, participants also get individual support from a mentor to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. More than 90 per cent of the people who have taken part say the programme has helped them feel better.

James Harcourt from the Big Lottery Fund said: “We’re delighted to be able to announce this funding during Mental Health Awareness Week. It’s important that people are aware of the positive difference talking to others can make. By bringing people together to enjoy nature they can share their experiences and concerns too and realise that they’re not alone. The success of this Ecotherapy programme is something to be celebrated.”

For more information visit stnicks.org.uk.