Exploring New Paths to Mental Health: A Discussion with Sue Stuart-Smith


Welcome to The Academic Life. You are smart and capable, but you aren’t an island and neither are we. So we reached across our mentor network to bring you podcasts on everything from how to finish that project, to how to take care of your beautiful mind. Wish we’d bring on an expert about something? DM us your suggestion on Twitter: The Academic Life @AcademicLifeNBN.

In this episode you’ll hear about: Sue Stuart-Smith’s path from English major to psychiatrist, how she went from avoiding gardening to becoming an avid gardener, and a discussion of The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature.

Our guest is: Sue Stuart-Smith, a prominent psychiatrist and psychotherapist. She is also an avid gardener. She took her degree in English literature at Cambridge before qualifying as a doctor. She worked in the National Health Service for many years, becoming the lead clinician for psychotherapy in Hertfordshire. She teaches at The Tavistock Clinic in London and is consultant to the DocHealth service. She is married to Tom Stuart-Smith, the celebrated garden designer. She is the author of The Well-Gardened Mind.

Today’s book is: The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature, about the healing effects of gardening and its ability to decrease stress and foster mental well-being in our everyday lives. The garden is often seen as a refuge, a place to forget worldly cares, removed from the “real” life that lies outside. But when we get our hands in the earth we connect with the cycle of life in nature through which destruction and decay are followed by regrowth and renewal. Sue Stuart-Smith provides a new perspective on the power of gardening to change people’s lives.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, the co-producer of the Academic Life podcasts, and a historian of women and gender. She has a small garden.

Listeners to this episode might be interested in:

  • The Well-Gardened Mind: The Restorative Power of Nature, by Sue Stuart Smith
  • Therapeutic Landscapes: An Evidence-Based Approach to Designing Healing Gardens and Restorative Outdoor Spaces, by Clare Marcus and Naomi Sachs
  • The Profession and Practice of Horticultural Therapy, edited by Rebecca Haller and Karen Kennedy and Christine Capra
  • Ecotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, edited by Martin Jordan and Joe Hinds
  • The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative, by Florence Williams
  • Radical Compassion, by Tara Brach
  • The psychology podcast channel on NBN 
  • The mindfulness podcast channel on NBN 

Your Host

Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler is the creator, show host, and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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