According to Nature For Health (NFH), re-connecting to nature is becoming a vital topic in relation to human health in general, and mental health and health care in particular.

The beginning the 21st century have witnessed a worldwide epidemic of mental health problems. Worldwide, anxiety affects around one billion people. Nearly a third of those people suffer depression, 60 million suffer bipolar affective disorder. Around 21 million people have schizophrenia or severe psychoses.  Dementia  is expected to impact more than 150 million people 30 years from now.

Our everyday life is increasingly distant from nature and green spaces, in particular due to the ever increasing urbanisation in many parts of the world. More than 50% of people now live in urban areas. By 2050 this proportion will be 70%. Urbanization is associated with increased levels of mental illness, although it is not yet fully clear why.  Our social and communication patterns bring us further away from physical realities including nature. People living in cities have a 20 percent higher risk of anxiety disorders and a 40 percent higher risk of mood disorders as compared to people in rural areas. People born and raised in cities are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia.

Spending time in green space or bringing nature into our everyday life will benefit our mental wellbeing and will help in preventing and/or curing mental health problems. Doing things like walking, growing food or flowers, exercising outdoor and birdwatching can have lots of positive effects.

Nature For Health will continue to address dementia & green spaces and will also enter into the wider aspects of mental health and the ways nature and green spaces can help in terms of prevention and cure.  NFH will start with preparing overviews of relevant research and promising examples all over the world on how mental health and nature are tackled in health programmes and by health care institutions, nature site management organisations and others.

Picture: Maurits E. Wolters, 2019