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Neighborhoods with Nature Tied to Better Mental Health

Neighborhoods with Nature Tied to Better Mental Health

A new study from the U.K. finds that living in a neighborhood with more birds, shrubs, and trees may help to reduce the risk of depression, anxiety, and stress.

Researchers studied hundreds of people and found that being able to see birds, shrubs, and trees around the home, whether people lived in urban or more leafy suburban neighborhoods.

University of Exeter, the British Trust for Ornithology, and the University of Queensland study involved a survey of mental health in over 270 people from different ages, incomes, and ethnicities.

Researchers also found that those who spent less time out of doors than usual in the previous week were more likely to report they were anxious or depressed.

After conducting extensive surveys of the number of birds in the morning and afternoon of three communities, the study found that lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress were associated with the number of birds people could see in the afternoon.

Researchers studied afternoon bird numbers —¬†which tend to be lower than birds generally seen in the morning —¬†because are more in keeping with the number of birds that people are likely to see in their neighborhood on a daily basis.

In the study, common types of birds including blackbirds, robins, blue tits, and crows were seen. However, the study did not find a relationship between the species of birds and mental health, but rather the number of birds they could see from their windows, in the garden, or in their neighborhood.

Previous studies have found that the ability of most people to identify different species is low, suggesting that for most people it is interacting with birds, not just specific birds, that provides well-being.

University of Exeter research fellow Dr. Daniel Cox, who led the study, said, “This study starts to unpick the role that some key components of nature play for our mental well-being. Birds around the home, and nature in general, show great promise in preventative health care, making cities healthier, happier places to live.”

The positive association between birds, shrubs, and trees and better mental health applied, even after controlling for variation in neighborhood deprivation, household income, age, and a wide range of other socio-demographic factors.

The current study expands an earlier which found that watching birds makes people feel relaxed and connected to nature.

Source: University of Exeter

Neighborhoods with Nature Tied to Better Mental Health

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Neighborhoods with Nature Tied to Better Mental Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 27 Feb 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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