Nature helps reduce mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic
“During this extraordinary time, nature around the home may play a key role in mitigating against adverse mental health outcomes due to the pandemic and the measures taken to address it,” wrote the researchers.
To investigate, the team surveyed 3,000 adults in Tokyo to examine the link between five mental health outcomes – depression, life satisfaction, subjective happiness, self‐esteem, and loneliness – and the frequency of green space use or views of nature from windows in the home.
“Accounting for sociodemographic and lifestyle variables, we found that the frequency of greenspace use and the existence of green window views from within the home was associated with increased levels of self‐esteem, life satisfaction, and subjective happiness and decreased levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness,” wrote the researchers.
“Our results suggest that nearby nature can serve as a buffer in decreasing the adverse impacts of a very stressful event on humans,” said study lead author Dr. Masashi Soga of the University of Tokyo. “Protecting natural environments in urban areas is important not only for the conservation of biodiversity, but also for the protection of human health.”
The experts noted that their findings suggest that a regular dose of nature can contribute to the improvement of a wide range of mental health outcomes.
“With the recent escalation in the prevalence of mental health disorders, and the possible negative impacts of the COVID‐19 pandemic on public mental health, our findings have major implications for policy, suggesting that urban nature has great potential to be used as a ‘nature‐based solution’ for improved public health.”
The study is published in the journal Ecological Applications.