A new sensory garden at the Tamarind Centre to improve mental health


The Tamarind Centre opened their 'Akuna' sensory garden this week, providing Top End Mental Health Service consumers,  and staff with a calming outdoor space to relax and reflect.

Established through the SafeCARE Top End program, the sensory garden will provide mental health consumers, carers and staff with a safe place to meditate, talk and connect to nature.  After months of preliminary work, consumers, staff, community groups and local businesses all chipped in to create the space at an all-day working bee held earlier in the year.

Janice Trezise from the Top End Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs Service said there was strong evidence to suggest that environmental dynamics can assist in reducing conflict and spending time in nature can provide a range of health benefits, including reduced stress and improved mental health.

“Our new sensory garden is a space conducive of healing and provides a culturally appropriate area for our consumers to relax and connect with clinicians,” she said.

“It is already being used for meetings and catch-ups in a way that was not possible before the new garden was built.

“Designed with input from our consumers and staff, the garden features a variety of native bush tucker plants, which have significant spiritual and cultural connection to consumers in the Top End.

“Incorporating sound, visual, touch, and smell the garden has been designed to enhance the general well-being of visitors. It boasts colourful trees and flowers, herb and vegetable gardens and seated areas encouraging relaxation and tranquillity.

“Without the support of our consumers, staff, local community groups and local businesses, the space wouldn’t have come to life, thank you to everyone involved the working bee. It is a testament to the community and our staff’s commitment to patient centred care.”

Sensory gardens have proven therapeutic value and are known to make a great contribution to emotional and physical health. The Cowdy Ward and Joan Ridley Unit at Royal Darwin Hospital also incorporate sensory gardens in their space which have proven to be very popular with consumers and staff alike.

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