Climbing Trees and Building Dens: Mental health and well-being in young adults and the long-term effects of childhood play experience

Produced by Amanda Bingley and Christine Milligan
Institute for Health Research, Lancaster University
Description This report arises from research conducted from October 2003 to April 2004. It
complements the Forestry Commission’s ‘Newlands’ Project, which aimed to identify wasteland urban areas or abandoned rural woodland that can be developed into accessible, recreational woodland and maintained over time by supported local
community groups (Jones, 2002). In order to understand the potential benefits of
these developments, the Commission has been sought to gain a greater understanding of how lack of accessible woodland play areas may impact on the health and well-being of children and young adults (Tabbush & O’Brien, 2002). In particular, there is a critical knowledge gap about the relationship between changes in childhood play space and the long-term implications for young people’s mental well-being (Burgess, 1996; Macnaghten et al., 1998). This is especially so, where children are deprived access to natural woodland spaces, or discouraged from going into local woodland areas. The aim of this study has been to redress the current lack of evidence-based research around these issues.