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Can nature really cure us? was recently published in the Guardian about the growth of books on health and nature.

I will be posting later this week on Nature Brain about the scientific evidence for nature improving wellbeing and mental health.

The Guardian article provides a balanced view of the potential psychological benefits – and limitations – of nature. A number of books have recently been published on this topic – most recently Losing Eden by Lucy Jones, and The Natural Health Service by Isabel Hardman who was interviewed by the Guardian.

It is important to distinguish between self-help and improving wellbeing and treating mental illness (see my earlier post for my take on this).

Read More Where Does Nature Fit in Improving Mental Health?

A report by the UK National Trust found that adults who had greater connection to nature were more likely to also report:

  • Increased happiness
  • Decreased depression and anxiety
  • Greater feelings that life was worthwhile

Everyone should try to get a average of 20 minutes of time in nature daily daily. The report suggests some quick tips to increase your time in nature.

Some suggested way to connect with nature are to:

  • Remove your headphones when you are outside
  • Listen for birds
  • Watch a sunrise or sunset
  • Read a book outdoors
  • Go for a walk or run outside

Link to the National Trust report press release.

Read more

A report on the health benefits in the community of Derry, Ireland (population ~230,000) estimates that over $1.3 billion USD in physical and mental health health benefits over the next generation related to community green spaces. The report provides and excellent community assessment of the health benefits of nature for a population. Link to original article in Derry Now.

The report describes the natural capital of region – the estimated economic benefits of green and blue spaces.

The report estimated that every $1 invested in greenspaces provides a return of $22 to society. Greenspaces provide approximately $1000 benefit per community resident.

Read More Community Benefits Associated with Investments in Greenspaces

A school in UK has hired an ecotherapist as part of their strategy to improve the mental health of students. Ecotherapist will work with individual students and provide groups in a first of its kind program.

‘Screens and gaming have massive impact on children’s emotional wellbeing,’ headteacher warns

The UK seems to be more advanced in their approach to integrating the health benefits of nature into education and the health care system. Hopefully with time North American organizations will also promote nature as a way to improve mental health in our populations.

Link to the article on the Independent.

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