chapter  8
11 Pages

The natural environment and wellbeing

ByUschi Bay

My contention is that, ontologically, people and nature are not separate and for this reason the wellbeing of both the natural environment and people is fostered through an interrelationship that is marked by an on-going respectful interdependence. This conceptualisation infl uences how the natural environment is incorporated into social work practice at personal, individual, group, community, policy and planning levels. Many examples of social work practice at these various levels posit wellbeing as internal to people, as a state of being rather than as a relation with the natural environment, and in so doing relegate nature to the status of a resource. When the natural environment is appropriated as some raw material to be preserved, protected, used or made economically or agriculturally productive, it means that nature is primarily treated as a context for people’s ‘wellbeing practices’


1. Explore the role of the natural environment for health and wellbeing in social work practice;

2. Indicate how the natural environment can be a source of distress and disease and social work’s response;

3. Promote a rethinking of wellbeing practices that recognises the interdependence of people and nature in social work practice.