Skip to main content

How to consider nature’s impact on mental health in city plans

Published on August 1, 2019

Edmonton, Alberta, CA.
Edmonton, Alberta, CA. Image Credit: CC ASA

Almost one in five adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness. That statistic is similar worldwide, with an estimated 450 million people currently dealing with a mental or neurological disorder. Of those, only about a third seek treatment.

Interacting with nature is starting to be recognized as one way to improve mental health. A number of scientific studies have shown that nature experiences may benefit people’s psychological well-being and cognitive function. But it has been difficult to find ways to quantify these benefits in a useful manner for cities or organizations that want to integrate nature to improve mental health.

Now, an international team led by the University of Washington and Stanford University has created a framework for how city planners and municipalities around the world can start to measure the mental health benefits of nature and incorporate those into plans and policies for cities and their residents. The study was published July 24 in Science Advances.

“Thinking about the direct mental health benefits that nature contact provides is important to take into account when planning how to conserve nature and integrate it into our cities,” said Greg Bratman, lead author and an assistant professor at the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. “The purpose of this paper is to provide a conceptual model of one way we can start to think about doing this.” Other University of Washington co-authors are Howard Frumkin of Environmental and Occupational Health SciencesPeter Kahn of the Department of Psychology and director of the Human Interaction with Nature and Technological Systems (HINTS) Lab , and Joshua Lawler and Phillip Levin of Environmental and Forest Sciences.


Continue reading at UW News.

Originally written by Michelle Ma for UW News.
Search by categories

Twitter Feed