Category Archives: News

Green Connections

Introduction to Green Connections:

We tend to spend a lot of time lost in our thoughts, our worries, ‘to do’ lists and plans for the future. Sometimes it’s difficult to be in the present, to appreciate the now, and focus on just ‘being’ – But nature can help you to do that. Nature invites you to pause and look around you. It can help you to feel part of something bigger than you. It can help you to feel calmer and more positive.

Green Connections is our new ecotherapy or ‘greencare’ mental health service designed by Derbyshire Mind and Wellbeing at Whistlewood as part of our wider Enjoying Derbyshire programme. Green Connections aims to provide a retreat-type environment for you to support your mental health and wellbeing by experiencing the many benefits of getting outside, slowing down, and connecting with nature.
We run these Green Connections days once a month from our beautiful Whistlewood Site near Melbourne just outside of Derby.⁠

Many studies have clearly shown that we benefit from being in natural places, being in contact with nature, and from looking after plants and animals. ‘Nature connectedness’ is the name of that relationship between people and the rest of nature, and it is shown to improve our mental wellbing.

“Nature connectedness is a measurable psychological construct that moves beyond contact with nature to an individual’s sense of their relationship with the natural world. We found that people who are more connected to nature tend to have greater eudaimonic wellbeing – meaning they are functioning well – and in particular have higher levels of self-reported personal growth.”  

– Prof. Miles Richardson, University of Derby

What are Green Connection days?

Green Connection days are a one-day experience of connection and relaxation in nature.

Along with our partners Wellbeing at Whistlewood, we are inviting you to step out of the city, slow down, and spend the whole day surrounded by nature and trees at our beautiful community site near Melbourne in South Derbyshire called Whistlewood Common, to see how nature benefits your mental wellbeing.

Our Green Connections days are a full day of slowing and spending time outside in a safe and peaceful location. You will be gently supported through a range of activities to connect with nature, connect with each other, and connect with yourselves and your own mental health. You will leave at the end of the day feeling more relaxed and knowledgeable about how you can continue to use the benefits of nature to support your mental health.

Whether it is raining or sunny, or even snowing, activities are provided in line with the changing seasons and include varying horticultural based activities, conservation activities, natural art and crafts, and ‘forest bathing’.

What is ‘Forest Bathing’?

Forest Bathing is a Japanese practice and is a process of relaxation; known in Japan as ‘shinrin yoku’. It involves a simple method of being calm and quiet amongst the trees, observing nature around you whilst breathing deeply. It has been shown to help adults de-stress and boost their health and wellbeing in a completely natural way.

Where is Green Connections?

Our Green Connection days take place at a beautiful and peaceful private community-owned site called Whistlewood. It is part of the wider National Forest.

The address for Whistlewood is:

Whistlewood Common, The Common, nr Melbourne, Derby, DE73 8DH

The sessions take place once a month on a Thursday. The day runs from 10am until 3pm, with an open invitation to then stay for a relaxed cuppa and a chat until 4pm.

Getting here by Car or Bus:

Whistlewood is located near to Melbourne in South Derbyshire. It takes about 20 minutes to drive here from Derby City Centre. Whistlewood’s track is almost opposite the Dovesite Business Site. Look out for the ‘Animal Farm’ sign.
The Number 2 bus service operates between Derby and Swadlincote and stops just outside – The stop is called ‘The Common’.

Who is Green Connections for?

Green Connections has been designed to benefit adults who are:

  • over 18 years old
  • living in Derby City or surrounding areas
  • experiencing low mood or depression, anxiety, stress, grief and loss, low self-esteem, or feeling alone and isolated (particularly as a result of lockdown)
  • able to spend a day largely outdoors, in all weathers

We have up to 20 spaces available on each monthly full day session.

Wellbeing Outcomes:

We will be using questionnaires to measure potential improvements to wellbeing and nature connectedness outcomes using WEMWBS and the University of Derby’s Nature Connectedness Scale.

We expect to show that time spent immersed in nature in this way, plus through the provision of further activities and ideas to continue to do from home, as well as signposting to other nature based local groups and volunteering opportunities, has a marked improvement on mental wellbeing.

Learn more about Ecotherapy outcomes here: Mind – Ecotherapy

How to Request a Place on an upcoming Green Connections Day:

If you feel you or your client meets our eligibility criteria for this service please complete the appropriate referral form below and we will be in touch with an offer of a date when a place becomes available for you/them:

Professionals – Refer your client

(Derby City Social Prescribers; Local Area Coordinators; Mental Health Practitioners; and so on)

Are you working with a client(s) that could benefit from a place on one of our Green Connections days?  

Please complete this form and we will be in touch with some offers of potential dates:  


Self Referral – Refer yourself

(Derby City Residents, aged over 18, with a mild-moderate mental health condition as described above)

We have places that are available for Derby City residents who feel they would benefit from attending a Green Connections day themselves.

If you are interested, please complete this form. We will review your form and if you meet the criteria we will be in touch with some offers of potential dates:  


Our Partners: ‘Wellbeing at Whistlewood’

We are pleased to be working with our Partners Anne and Helen from Wellbeing at Whistlewood for this Green Connections service.

Anne Bramley is a Forest Therapies Practitioner and Certified Forest Bathing Guide. ​Helen Saunders is a Certified Forest Bathing Guide.

Learn more about Wellbeing at Whistlewood by visiting their website here:

Side by Side app by Mind

Did you know that Mind has a supportive online community that you can join in with?

Side by Side is a supportive online community where you can feel at home talking about your mental health and connect with others who understand what you are going through.

We all know what it’s like to struggle sometimes, but now there’s a safe place to listen, share and be heard. Whether you’re feeling good right now, or having a hard time, it’s a safe place to share experiences and listen to others. The community is available to all, 24/7.

Side by Side is moderated daily from 8.30am to midnight.

Join the Side by Side Community here: Mind – Side By Side

What is Side by Side for?

Side by Side is grounded in the values of peer support. It’s a welcoming place for people to make connections, learn from each other and feel inspired to take positive steps on their mental health journeys. Side by Side is not a crisis service and we ask all members to use the community safely and reach out for other forms of support if they think they might need urgent help. Check out Mind’s information and advice on support in a crisis.

You Said, We Did (June 2021)

At Derbyshire Mind we believe in ensuring our community services reflect what you the community want and need, and one of the ways we do this is by addressing your comments and feedback . Here are a couple of the most recent ‘You said, we did’ outcomes:

You said ‘We loved Music of our Lives and would like to see it run again’ and ‘I would have loved more sessions in the course’

We did:

Derbyshire Mind have listened to this feedback and ‘Music of our Lives’ is being delivered again and for 6 weeks instead of 4 weeks!

Each week will have a theme and you will have the opportunity to share songs, your experiences and talk about your own special pieces of music. Sessions are delivered by local Music Therapist Alex Blood.

You said ‘Can you deliver more activities during Mental Health Awareness Week’

We did:

Derbyshire Mind delivered a full week of varied activities for Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, with the theme being Connecting with Nature. Activities included:

  • Mindful Crafts – Fabric flower crafting
  • Good Mood with Food – Ask a Nutritionist
  • Movement & Mindfulness – Nature based special edition
  • Connecting with Nature in the Spring with Wellbeing at Whistlewood
  • Webinar with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust – Exploring the 5 Ways to Wild Wellbeing webinar
  • Music of our Lives – Nature based special edition
  • Spiral Arts – Rewilding Derby Arboretum – Paint a Postcard and other crafts
  • We also hosted the ‘Wild Wellbeing’ facebook group for the week and had conversations with you all around the five ways to wellbeing

We are already looking forward to Mental Health Awareness Week 2022!

Is there something you would like to see from Derbyshire Mind’s Enjoying Derbyshire Programme?

MHAW21 // How Does Nature Support Your Mental Wellbeing?

The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 is ‘Connecting with Nature’ and so we asked Derbyshire “How does nature support your mental Wellbeing”?

Jennie Derbyshire and Andrea Kemp from our partners Shift and Jog Derbyshire have both written wonderful blogs explaining how nature supports them and their wellbeing. – Do get a cup of tea and have a read!

Drowning Out Nature” by Jennie Derbyshire, Shift

“How can you run without music on?” one of my friends regularly asks me, “I can’t run without it”.

Normally I shrug a non-committal response, blaming the fact I don’t like having my phone on me and my old school wired headphones.

When we met for a run at the weekend the same conversation cropped up. “Here, you can share my music if you want”, she offered. I hesitated. “Go on then”, I accepted, taking the wireless headphone from her.

Off we went on a 10km run, returning to the usual post run buzz and cheerful chatter about how hard it was and how much our legs hurt.

“How was it?” my friend asked as I handed back the headphone. “I think I still prefer it without”, I admitted. “Perhaps it’s because you’re just used to it”, she mused. “Yeah probably”, I responded.

What’s the problem with music?

On the way home I gave it some more thought. Why didn’t I like running to music? A few years ago, before I got back into running I used to go to the gym and I would run on the treadmill, headphones in, trying to pretend I was anywhere other than at the gym. I had a gym playlist and everything.

So what’s changed? The environment.

I never really liked the gym. I went because I wanted to do something to keep fit but didn’t really know what else I could do. I was young, had no family responsibilities and plenty of spare money to throw away on membership each month.

Fast forward a few years and things have changed. I’m married with two children and a lot less disposable income. I got into running outside again through work, joining Jog Derbyshire groups to hear their stories and eventually stumbling across one that went from the bottom of my road. It was free and about as local as it got. Perfect.

I guess this was the original reason I ditched the headphones. Going out with the group was more a social experience. Music was replaced with conversation and that’s what I had become used to.

Connecting with the environment

The reason, I realised, that I wasn’t particularly keen on the music was to do with feeling present in the environment I was running in.

With headphones in I couldn’t hear the birds tweeting, I couldn’t hear the wind rustling in the trees, I couldn’t hear the stream trickling underneath the bridge as I ran over it. I couldn’t hear any of that natural background noise that nature offers. And I missed the peacefulness of it all.

I missed hearing my feet pounding on the pavement, I missed the squelching noise as I ran through the mud, I missed the splash of the puddles as I tried – unsuccessfully – to dodge them.

I love running in the outdoors. It’s got a freedom about it that you don’t get from a treadmill. And that feeling you get when you’ve been out in dreadful weather and you come back in a jump in a warm shower is one of the best ever. I’d rather run in the rain than warm sun any day.

Thinking space

Running is one of the few times where my head is clear. I’ve always been a bit of an over thinker. My mind’s usually analysing a past event, thinking I could have done something better, wondering what other people think. Or it’s in planning mode. What do the kids need, what do I need to do at home, what fun things have I got to organise for the weekend to look like a good parent? Who do I need to contact about what? When does it need to be done by?

I don’t know what it is about it but I don’t think I’ve ever worried about anything whilst running.

Having music on took me back into my own head, focussing on what was there rather than what was around me.

So that’s it for me and the headphones. I have to admit though, when I was on the last km, feeling like my legs were about to drop off and Eye of the Tiger came on, it did give me a little boost to reach the finish point.”

What a wonderful message Jennie’s blog gives us all!

Reflecting in Nature – Hold me while I think” by Andrea Kemp, CEO, Shift

This phase of Covid seems harder to navigate than the others. Home-schooling, home-working, on-line board meetings, virtual life, quarantine; exhausting as it was, I could find a way of coping because we had to adapt and crack on. Finding our way back to the office, into communities and connecting as a team however is tentative, cautious and slightly nervy, feeling our way but without touching.

New energy is required as we embark on this next phase of so called ‘recovery’. New ideas and freshness, yet I feel tired and a bit steam-rollered by the events of the past year. So, I have decided to take one day at a time, and to seek ways of nurturing myself and ourselves – as a family and a company.

Like many, walking, running and cycling have featured prominently in my activities during the pandemic and our dog has thoroughly enjoyed extended walks in the surrounding Derbyshire countryside. As I meandered through the fields and woods this morning listening to birdsong and looking into hedgerows at the blue tits hopping from branch to branch, I realised I’ve been thinking back over events of the previous days whilst soaking in the lush greenery and making my way round the hour-long loop. Walking in nature allows this to happen freely – reflection without limits, demands, outcomes or even purpose. It’s as though the earth gently holds me while I think through problems, situations, questions or ideas and I often return to my back gate with clarity and a way forward. Making time for this each day has been and will continue to be key to staying well and energised. Mental Health Awareness Week has revealed the value of nature to me but is also something I try and put into practice daily.

We’ve intentionally used this in a work environment too, integrating outdoor ‘thinking pairs’ into team meetings and planning days. A chance to walk outside and wherever possible to be in green open spaces and amongst big skies. Maybe it’s the fresh air and change of scenery which alters our perceptions and creates better spaces to think? I’m a huge fan of Nancy Kline’s Thinking Environment and spend what some may see as a disproportionate amount of time creating conditions for high quality thinking. But faced with a table, chairs, four blank walls and stale office air or trees, paths, houses, grass, hedgerows, ponds, birds, squirrels and flowers I know where I would rather do my thinking. 

Happily, my children are also seeing the potential of nature to soothe and nurture their thoughts and thinking. Over lockdown we took to the hills regularly to talk about the struggles of living, learning and working in the same space and we’d often meet others doing the same. In a world geared increasingly around technology and screens I hope they continue to value all that nature offers for health and wellbeing.

When I discovered yoga and spiritual health several years ago, I was initially surprised to learn that it is the colour green which governs the heart, relating to love and nurture – I imagined red was the colour of love. Yet green is the energy of love and transformation, it is the colour of growth, life, and balance. Green helps relax muscles, nerves and thoughts so it makes perfect sense that walking in nature is soothing for both mind and body and helps us open up to ourselves and each other.

Wherever this phase of the pandemic leads us I am certain that nature and the outdoor environment will feature as both a guide and a blanket in which to wrap ourselves.”

Thank you so much to Jennie and Andrea for sharing their personal wellbeing stories with us all!

For more information about Shift, visit their website here:

How does nature support YOUR wellbeing?

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 10 – 16 May 2021 and this year the theme is Nature. Together with our fantastic partners, Derbyshire Mind are bringing you a week free activities focusing on nature and mental wellbeing.

Please get involved and book tickets to the activities that interest you!


Fabric Flowers for Mindful Crafts – With Stacey, StepBallChange and Derby Quad

Join us for our popular Mindful Crafts group with artist Stacey Murray for a relaxed and creative session making fabric flowers together.

Date/Time: Monday 11th, 1.30-3pm.
For More Info and to Book your Free Ticket:


Good Mood With Food: Ask a Nutritionist – With Eva Humphries, BANT Nutritionist

Good Mood with Food is our new expert-led nutrition course starting in June. Come along to this Introductory session for MHAW & ask Eva your questions.

Date/Time: Tuesday 11th May, 6 – 6.45pm

For More Info and to Book your Free Ticket:


Movement and Mindfulness in Nature – With Kat Rooney, Yoga and Mindfulness

A special edition Movement and Mindfulness class where we will be looking at how we can use the gifts of nature in our mindfulness practice!

Date/Time: Wednesday 12th May, 10-11am

For More Info and to Book your Free Ticket:


Connecting with Nature in the Spring – With Wellbeing at Whistlewood

Join Anne and Helen from Wellbeing at Whistlewood as we explore how to connect with nature to improve your mental wellbeing this spring.

Date/Time: Thursday 13th May, 10-11am

For More Info and to Book your Free Ticket:

5 Ways to Wild Wellbeing Webinar – Derbyshire Mind and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

You may have heard of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, but you haven’t experienced them like this before! In celebration of Mental Health Awareness Week Derbyshire Mind have teamed up with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to help you get wild about your wellbeing!

Date/Time: Thursday May 13th 7pm-8.30pm

For More Info and to Book your Free Ticket:


Music of our Lives – Special Nature Edition! – With Alex Blood, Derbyshire Music Therapy

Music of our Lives is our expert-led music group starting again in June. Come along to this fun one-off session focusing on nature related songs!

Date/Time: Friday 14th May, 10-11am

For More Info and to Book your Free Ticket:


Make your Own ‘5 Ways to Wild Wellbeing’ Mobile – With Spiral Arts and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Make your own ‘5 Ways to Wild Wellbeing’ themed mobile to hang up at home as a reminder to weave a little time for your own wellbeing in to every day. – Free craft packs provided.

Date/Time: Saturday 15th May, 11-12pm or 3-4pm

For More Info and to Book your Free Ticket:
Email with your address & which session you are booking


Rewilding Derby Arboretum: Paint a Postcard – With Spiral Arts and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Using historical photographic postcards of the Arboretum we will get wild with a paintbrush and splash on colour and add your own wild ideas to the images! There will be the option to submit your finished paintings to our ‘Rewilding the Arboretum’ exhibition later in the year! – Free craft packs provided.
Date/Time: Sunday 16th May, 11-12pm or 3-4pm

For More Info and to Book your Free Ticket:
Email with your address & which session you are booking


Join the ‘Wilder Wellbeing’ Facebook Group

Jenny from Derbyshire Mind and Kirsty from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust will be discussing all things Wild Wellbeing and discussing valuable approaches to supporting our mental health. Now is the perfect time to join Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Wilder Wellbeing Community so you don’t miss out! Sign up to the Facebook group to get involved in the conversation here:

Volunteer With Derbyshire Mind

We are looking for Community Volunteers!

Derbyshire Mind are now looking for up to four Community Volunteers to support our new Enjoying Derbyshire groups, including our exciting new Green Connections project at Whistlewood in South Derbyshire.

Are you a warm and friendly person, and can listen and support without trying to ‘fix’? If so, you could be just what we are looking for! 💙

Take a look the two Community Volunteer role descriptions on our website to see if this opportunity could be perfect for you.

Visit for all the information about the roles, including the important dates, and how to apply.

– Please tag and share with any friends who might like the opportunity to join our friendly and supportive team who are passionate about improving mental wellbeing across Derby and Derbyshire.

Mindful March Colouring Sheet

Download this Mindful March colouring sheet for yourself this March.

Colouring is a wonderfully relaxing activity that can help your brain switch off after a busy day. It is also a calming quiet practice that helps you slow down and be mindful.

The Enjoying Derbyshire ‘Mindful March’ colouring sheet we have created for you includes lots of references to Spring and nature, and we hope you enjoy taking some time for yourself with this mindful activity.

If you finish your Mindful March colouring sheet, we would love to see a photograph! Just tag us in your photo on social media, or send it to us in a Direct Message on Instagram or Facebook.

Additional Challenge – Can you find and mark your town on the map of Derby and Derbyshire included in the colouring sheet?

Movement and Mindfulness – An Enjoying Derbyshire Course

A friendly beginners mindfulness course, designed to help you enjoy the benefits of gentle movement and bring a sense of calm to your week! – A Derbyshire Mind ‘Enjoying Derbyshire’ course in collaboration with Kat Rooney Yoga and Mindfulness

About this Course:

Join us for some gentle movement, mindfulness, and much-needed relaxation from the comfort of your own living room!

This free 6 week online mindfulness course led by local Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher Kat Rooney has been specially designed for our Enjoying Derbyshire programme to help you enjoy the benefits of gentle movement and bring a sense of calm and happiness to your week! Each session with have a different theme which ultimately will provide you with a toolkit of calming grounding techniques.

You can join us for the full 6 week group course, or just for individual sessions, it’s completely up to you!

Course Dates: Wednesdays: 24th Feb, 3rd Mar, 10th Mar, 17th Mar, 24th Mar, 31st March 2021

Time: 10-11am

Location: Online via Zoom

To Book Yourself A Place:

To book your free place onto this specially designed mental wellbeing course, just visit: 


This friendly and enjoyable 6 week group is part of Derbyshire Mind’s Enjoying Derbyshire community wellbeing programme and so is aimed at people living in Derby or Derbyshire with a mild to moderate mental health condition or who are currently feeling anxious, isolated, or low, particularly as a result of lockdown.

If you have any questions, please contact Derbyshire Mind on

You can learn more about Derbyshire Mind and the Enjoying Derbyshire wellbeing programme by visiting:

You can learn more about Kat Rooney and her approach by visiting her website:

Exploring Your Inner Resilience – An Enjoying Derbyshire course for Students

Exploring Your Inner Resilience


‘Exploring Your Inner Resilience’ is a seven week online course for 18-21 year old students that is designed to explore feelings of stress and anxiety and build resilience. An Derbyshire Mind ‘Enjoying Derbyshire’ course in collaboration with Bello Mind and Soul.
About this Course:

Join local Creative Arts Practitioner Dani Bello for an online wellbeing and empowerment course, designed specifically for students (18-21 years old) living or studying in Derbyshire and experiencing low mood and worries as a result of keeping up with studies and the ongoing lockdowns!

This 7-week course will invite you to explore your inner resilient self and help you to ignite your inner strength and power. By taking part in the creative activities, you will be lead on a journey of self-discovery and learn to support yourself in the best way!

Each session will help you explore and express a range of different emotions such as combating loneliness, anxiety, stress, low self-esteem and so much more. You will be leaving each session feeling uplifted and motivated, and having so much more energy to focus on yourself and your studies during this difficult and unpredictable time.


Course Dates (Delivered via Zoom):

Course Dates: 4th March 2021, 11th March 2021, 18th March 2021, 25th March 2021, 1st April 2021, 8th April 2021, 15th April 2021 from 7.00pm – 8.30pm


To Book Yourself A Place:

To book a free place onto this specially designed wellbeing course for students, just visit: 


Enjoying Derbyshire:

This friendly and enjoyable course is part of our Enjoying Derbyshire community wellbeing programme and so is aimed at students in Derby/Derbyshire aged 18-21 who are currently feeling isolated or low, particularly as a result of this latest lockdown, or experiencing mild to moderate mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Like all of our Enjoying Derbyshire courses, this course is free and is kindly funded though donations and fundraising.

If you have any questions, please contact Derbyshire Mind on

You can learn more about Derbyshire Mind and the Enjoying Derbyshire wellbeing programme by visiting:

You can learn more about Danielle Bello and her approach by visiting her website: