Posted by Ryan
Why the campaign to save Watson's Bay is good for mental health
For some time now there's been a huge community campaign going on in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs to save Watson's Bay and South Head.
Watson's Bay is the suburb right at the end of the southern headland (South Head) of Sydney harbour. It is a beautiful, picturesque area steeped in indigenous and Australian European history, and includes South Head National Park, a lovely patch of greenery and bushland, surrounded by sweeping harbour and ocean views. It is a small but important natural refuge in a part of Sydney that is busy, crowded, and (arguably) increasingly over-developed.
In 2015, a large entertainment venue company put forward a proposal to create a number of function and event venues in the Watsons' Bay / South Head area, including within the National Park, that opponents of the plan argued would have severely limited public access to this important place.
Thousands and thousands of Sydneysiders supported the "Save Watson's Bay" campaign, and it became a significant election issue in the recent Wentworth by-election, with all the major candidates expressing their opposition to the proposal. Thankfully for the "Save Watson's Bay" campaigners, the government announced in December that the development proposal had been rejected.
This outcome is a great example of the power of grassroots local activism. It's also something that's important for local mental health (I know, right?). The truth is that we need more green space, more nature, for not just our physical wellbeing but our mental wellbeing too.
As Sydney (including the Eastern Suburbs) becomes denser and more populated, and backyards become more and more a thing of the past, retaining access to green spaces and the natural environment is increasingly important. There is a whole lot of research evidence now supporting the importance of green spaces and nature for mental health.
For example, access to green spaces is correlated with increased exercise, which in turn is associated with better mental health. Research has also shown that simply being exposed to green natural environments is psychologically restorative and has positive impacts on emotional and mood states, and cognition. These kinds of areas also provide us with spaces to engage in social activities which promote connectedness and reduce feelings of isolation.
Some other interesting research findings to do with the benefits of having more nature and green spaces around the areas we live include correlations between:
So, well done to the people power behind "Save Waton's Bay" and "Save South Head"! And if you live in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, or anywhere for that matter, why not get outside for a walk in the park!
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Posted by Ryan
When we started Be Psychology & Mental Health, we thought long and hard about what we would call our practice. We threw around a lot of different names. While we knew that what really mattered was not so much the practice name but our commitment to helping our clients as best we could, we nevertheless wanted a name that conveyed something about who we are as psychologists and people, something simple, something that conveyed the very essence of what we understand psychological therapy to be about.
When we first meet clients, they often express some kind of dissatisfaction with how things are going for them at the time. What this tends to boil down to is a sense of not living the sort of life they want to be living, not being the sort of person they want to be, and often feeling stuck and unsure as to how to get closer to that. The idea of "be" captures something really essential about what we all strive for.
When I came across this video for this new song from Josh Radnor and Ben Lee, posting it seemed like a fitting way to kick-off this blog. Not only do the lyrics contemplate this notion of what it means to "be", but the video with its quirky hand dancing (!) is strangely mesmerising.
I also really love what Josh Radnor says about the song: "The song is, on some level, about simplicity, about knowing we have everything we need if we could just get out of our own way." The problem is knowing how to get out of our own way, or indeed recognising that we are in our own way to start with.
In his book, The Gift of Therapy, a manifesto of inspiration and guidance for other psychotherapists, famed psychiatrist/psychotherapist Irvin Yalom shares 85 pieces of sage advice drawn from his experience of half a century of clinical practice. The title of Chapter 1? 'Remove the Obstacles to Growth'. No matter a psychologist's therapeutic approach -- CBT, ACT, psychodynamic psychotherapy, schema therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, Gestalt therapy, DBT etc. etc. (more on all of these therapy approaches in future posts) -- this, I think, sums up what psychological therapy is about. Removing the obstacles to growth so that you are free to be.
We hope that the idea of "be" inspires you as it has us.
Be Psychology & Mental Health is an expert clinical psychology practice with locations in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.