The Mental Health Unit for Children and Adolescents of the Mataró Hospital has had, for the last six months, a therapeutic garden, a project that offers hospitalized children and young people a different directed activity with direct benefits for their mental and physical health. The goal is that patients can enjoy it and take care of it as part of their healing process.
The project has been an initiative of the service professionals themselves and the orchard has been installed in the internal patio of the unit, a space that until now had no use. The horticulture used in therapy and rehabilitation programs directed by therapists becomes a vehicle to work, above all, on cognitive aspects and social skills. Thus, it contributes to developing or recovering the personal autonomy of patients, integrating the learning of basic skills, improving their physical and cognitive functioning, addressing social skills and incorporating healthy lifestyle habits to achieve physical and mental well-being.
The benefits provided by horticultural therapy can be divided into 4 groups: cognitive: capacity for concentration and attention, creativity, memory and resolution of psycho-emotional problems; self-esteem, mood, reduction of stress and aggressive behaviors; management of emotions, patience and control of frustration. On the physical level it improves balance, strength, dexterity and motor skills and on the social aspect it promotes group cohesion, interaction and social integration
To start this project, two Mental Health professionals have been specifically trained in therapeutic horticulture. One of the team members’ personal knowledge of peasant issues has also been used.
The medium-term objective is to give greater impetus to this project in therapy, integrating the garden into the day-to-day life of hospitalized patients and into the activities of the Hospital Classroom. For this reason, the team’s staff will continue to be trained in collaboration with the Spanish Association of Social and Therapeutic Horticulture and Gardening.