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What is Branching Out?

Branching Out is an outdoor therapeutic programme for adults who use mental health services in Scotland. The service consists of 3 hours of woodland activities per week for a group of 12 participants delivered over a 3 month period. 

Activities are adapted to suit the client group, site and time of year, and generally include:

  • physical activity such as health walks and tai chi
  • conservation activities such as rhododendron clearance and bird box construction
  • bushcraft such as fire lighting and shelter building
  • environmental art such as photography and willow sculptures

On completion of the programme participants receive a certificate of achievement, a tool handling certificate and a John Muir Discovery Award. After completion, graduates are encouraged to join community-based leisure, volunteer and attend training opportunities.

The Branching Out programme runs in all mainland health board areas, however accessibility is dependent on the locality of delivery agencies. Please get in touch with us if you're a mental health service (NHS/third sector) who would like to get involved in setting up a local partnership for your client base.

Find out more about Branching Out

Watch the Branching Out - combined perspective video on YouTube.

Branching Out training

To ensure consistency of the Branching Out model across Scotland, a 3 day Branching Out Leader course has been developed for outdoor professionals. It was created following a full training needs analysis, working with current and prospective Branching Out leaders to evaluate training requirements. The course content was developed by green health training consultants in collaboration with NHS Health Scotland and the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).

Training is available for experienced staff working in the environmental sector, who want to deliver the Branching Out programme in collaboration with the NHS and mental health charities. This will require setting up local partnerships and applying for funding. Contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you or your organisation would like to get involved. 

The course itself covers the programme content and policies and procedures of a Branching Out project. This course will not cover outdoor skills. The previous trainees have included local authority ranger teams and environmental charity staff.

The course is endorsed by the Institute for Outdoor Learning. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic this course is also delivered online using the MS Teams platform over 4 days. It's then followed up by a practical skills share day delivered outdoors.

We've also developed a 2 day course for mental health practitioners who support their clients on Branching Out and wish to build their confidence in the basic outdoor skills needed for the programme. This course is a practical skills based course delivered fully outdoors.

Contact the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information about the Branching Out training courses.

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Branching Out