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Wellness Walks boost physical and mental health

​Service users and staff at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) have been embracing the mental and physical health benefits of enjoying our region’s beautiful countryside.

The Walking for Wellness group recently visited Framlingham Castle, in Suffolk, exploring the ruins and taking in the stunning scenery, while boosting their physical fitness and improving their mental wellbeing.

Liz Doolan, a Peer Support Worker in the Early Intervention Team at Great Yarmouth, has been organising the monthly walks since they began last August. They mostly involve visits to sites of special natural and historical interest in the Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth areas. 

Liz, who was a service user herself before becoming a Peer Support Worker, said: “I know myself the benefits of walking and we all know that getting out into nature and physical exercise are good for us, physically and mentally.

“There’s plenty of research proving it, but also service users have often said how much better they feel afterwards.

“These walks give our service users the chance to get out and about, enjoy the fresh air and explore somewhere new and inspiring. They combine physical activity and social contact with being outside in nature.

“They also give service users a chance to meet the team informally, including people they perhaps don’t see on a regular basis but who nevertheless play an important role behind the scenes in providing their treatment. 

“Some simply enjoy the experience of being in beautiful surroundings and finding some peace in a non-clinical setting; others appreciate the opportunity to get active outdoors; and others find walking and talking helps them to open up and express themselves in ways that complement the therapeutic work they engage in in the treatment room.”

The Early Intervention Team support people from 14 to 65 who are experiencing symptoms of their first episode of psychosis. The team’s support is intended to help people feel better and to reduce the impact of the symptoms. The EIT also aims to help the service user and their family understand more about the symptoms of psychosis and what treatments are available.

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