Our Natural Healer: Unveiling the Mental Health Advantages of Biodiversity

by | Apr 21, 2024 | Latest mental health news

The findings present compelling evidence: environments abundant in natural diversity – from trees to waterways – were linked with a significant boost in mental well-being. Furthermore, the mental wellness effect can persist for up to eight hours. Essentially, the more diverse the natural features, the better our mental well-being.

In-depth analysis reveals that nearly a quarter of nature’s positive impact on mental health can be traced back to the array of features present. Such findings emphasize that policies and practices encouraging biodiversity can be transformative for both the environment and public mental health.
Ryan Hammoud, the lead author of the study and a research assistant at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience, suggests a practical implication: we should transition from manicured parks of mown grass, typically low in bio-diversity, towards spaces mirroring the biodiversity of natural ecosystems.

The planting of mono-cultures is easy and convenient, but this research makes it clear that the benefits of biodiversity outweigh the effort required to create it.
This study took place over five years, from April 2018 to September 2023. Each participant completed assessments three times daily over two weeks. They provided information about their immediate environment and answered mental health queries.

The diversity of nature was measured concerning the presence of four natural features – trees, plants, birds, and water- in the participant’s environment.
Senior author Andrea Mechelli, a professor of Early Intervention in Mental Health, sheds light on a critical global concern – a rapid decline in biodiversity amid climate change.

The results of this study underline that biodiversity is not only crucial for environmental health but also for human mental well-being. Therefore, biodiversity should be recognized as vital infrastructure in urban planning and esteemed for its twofold contribution to planetary and human health.