18 Jan 2020

Frank Jansen: gardening for mental health

From The Weekend, 9:06 am on 18 January 2020

After a breakdown eight years ago, Frank Jansen decided he'd never work in an office again.

He now creates gardens for people with mobility or sensory issues and is head gardener at Katherine Mansfield House.

Frank tells Lynn Freeman gardening was his saving grace in the years of depression that followed his breakdown.

"I noticed that I was sitting in my own garden just trying to get a sense of achievement from finishing the next square metre in front of me."

When you're struggling with mental illness, any sense of achievement is hugely important, he says.

"The first thing with mental illness – and particularly depression – is to get back into the present, to being mindful of the present - and gardening is a marvellous thing for that because you are focusing literally on the next square metre in front of you."