Get Healthy!

  • Posted April 16, 2024

A More Diverse Nature Brings Better Mental Health

Want to feel happier?

Live in or near a place with a rich diversity of nature, a new study says.

Environments with plentiful natural features -- trees, birds, plants and rivers -- are associated with better mental well-being than the more spartan landscapes of suburbia, researchers found.

Further, spending time in areas like this can provide benefits that last up to eight hours afterward, the study claims.

“Our results highlight that by protecting and promoting natural diversity we can maximize the benefits of nature for mental well-being,” said study author Ryan Hammoud, a research assistant with King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.

For examples, cities could improve the mental well-being of residents by designing parks “which mirror the biodiversity of natural ecosystems,” rather than maintaining green spaces with mowed lawns and sparse features, Hammoud said.

“By showing how natural diversity boosts our mental well-being, we provide a compelling basis for how to create greener and healthier urban spaces,” Hammoud said.

For the study, researchers had nearly 2,000 people fill out three questionnaires a day for two weeks about their current environment and their mental health. The study ran between April 2018 and September 2023, and collected more than 41,000 assessments.

Researchers defined natural diversity by how many out of four natural features -- trees, plants, birds and water -- were present in the participant's surroundings.

Analysis of the data showed that nearly a quarter of the positive impact of nature on mental health could be explained by the diversity of nearby natural features, researchers said.

The new study was published April 16 in the journal Scientific Reports.

Policies and practices that support natural habitats and animal species are beneficial for human mental health as well as for the environment, the researchers concluded.

“In the context of climate change, we are witnessing a rapid decline in biodiversity in the UK as well as globally,” said senior researcher Andrea Mechelli, a professor of early intervention in mental health at the King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience.

“Our results suggest that biodiversity is critical not only for the health of our natural environments but also for the mental well-being of the people who live in these environments,” Mechelli said in a college news release. “It is time to recognize that biodiversity brings co-benefits for planetary and human health and needs to be considered vital infrastructure within our cities.”

More information

The American Psychological Association has more on the mental health benefits of nature.

SOURCE: King's College London, news release, April 16, 2024

Health News is provided as a service to Morganton Drug site users by HealthDay. Morganton Drug nor its employees, agents, or contractors, review, control, or take responsibility for the content of these articles. Please seek medical advice directly from your pharmacist or physician.
Copyright © 2024 HealthDay All Rights Reserved.