The philosophy of greencare: why it matters for our mental health

Rex Haigh (Based at Slough Therapeutic Community, Wexham Park Hospital and Iver Environment Centre, Slough, UK)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Publication date: 17 August 2012



This paper aims to demonstrate the confluence of thinking across several areas, in their critique of modernity, with potential solutions in the mental health field.


The paper uses case and organisational examples related to relevant theory and clinical practice to demonstrate relevant contradictions and paradoxes in “modernised” mental health care. This is based on the author's experience as a public sector psychiatrist specialising in “personality disorder” to lead a government programme of new service developments in the field.


Modern methods of management, focusing on measurement, prediction and control – in the service of efficiency and economy – are not sufficient to meet the needs of a population with high incidence of “personality disorder”. A major change of attitude is required, to an authentic biopsychosocial approach, including spiritual and other non‐verbal considerations.

Research limitations/implications

Hitherto, research has not combined these elements in a way that has made it easy to capture and analyse them. New methodologies and paradigms may be called for.

Practical implications

Mental health care should not be considered an entirely rational process that can be measured and manualised; considerations of how to better manage complexity and uncertainty are urgently needed.

Social implications

Destigmatisation and normalisation of mental distress and “illness” should occur.


The paper introduces two new terms to mental health discourse: “greencare” and “biopsychosocialism”.



Haigh, R. (2012), "The philosophy of greencare: why it matters for our mental health", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 127-134.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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