MAY 11, 2022 10:00 AM PDT

The Natural World May Help Mental Health, But Studies Lack Diversity

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

It seems like a no-brainer that the natural world would have a positive effect on our well being, particularly our mental health. With the ubiquity of social media and other digital technologies (which has shown to have detrimental effects on mental health in certain contexts), turning to the beauty of the world around us seems like the perfect alternative to our tech-driven world.

And in fact, research suggests that this is likely the case. A burgeoning field of study—which includes research studying the intersection of psychology and environmental science—suggests there are certain correlations between the world around us and our mental well being. This research claims that being in the outside world has a range of benefits for our well being, particularly for those with anxiety and depression. For example, some research suggests that group nature walks, as opposed to walking in urban areas or indoors, has a positive impact on mental wellbeing 

However, a new paper published in Current Research in Environmental Sustainability pokes holes in the ability of this field to make conclusive claims, citing a lack of diversity in studies. 

A review of 174 peer-reviewed studies investigating how the natural world impacts health and wellness found that the overwhelming majority of participants were white or lived in Western or westernized countries, 95% to be exact. Of the studies included, only one took place in Africa (South Africa), while another took place in South America. Neither study tracked demographic data.

In addition to the lack of diversity in studies was a lack of cross-cultural frameworks for analyzing the human-environment relationship. Many studies tended to look at the relationship from a typical Western perspective, with a focus on individualism and human centricity. Basically, researchers investigating the connection behind well being and nature’s impact on it were likely approaching their work from a very Western lens. 

As part of their review, researchers offer several recommendations. Among these include diversifying participants in studies, tracking demographic data more closely, and training on cross-cultural research methods. 

Sources: EurekaAlert!Current Research in Environmental Sustainability; British Journal of Occupational Therapy

About the Author
Professional Writing
Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
You May Also Like
MAY 07, 2022
Plants & Animals
Here's How Mosquitoes Detect Human Odor
MAY 07, 2022
Here's How Mosquitoes Detect Human Odor
We’re all familiar with the annoying summertime feeling of mosquitos constantly buzzing around us, looking for a b ...
MAY 18, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Top Hack For Growing The Best Cannabis
MAY 18, 2022
Top Hack For Growing The Best Cannabis
Want to grow the best cannabis at home? Here's the number one best practice you should be aware of.
MAY 20, 2022
Health & Medicine
Taboo Bird Flu Vaccines Considered in Europe Amid Poultry Outbreak
MAY 20, 2022
Taboo Bird Flu Vaccines Considered in Europe Amid Poultry Outbreak
Vaccines are yet again a subject of controversy, but this time it's got nothing to do with COVID. An outbreak of avi ...
JUN 03, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Seeds matter when growing cannabis
JUN 03, 2022
Seeds matter when growing cannabis
Seeds are where it all begins when growing high quality weed. Here's how to select the right ones.
JUN 03, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
Poultry Vaccine Led to Increase in Antibiotic Resistance in Salmonella
JUN 03, 2022
Poultry Vaccine Led to Increase in Antibiotic Resistance in Salmonella
The Salmonella bacterium is a common cause of foodborne illness, and it isn't unusual to find strains of the microbe in ...
JUL 01, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
Great Odin's Ravens! The Missing Link Between Single-Cell Organisms & Human Cells Named For the Old Norse Deity
JUL 01, 2022
Great Odin's Ravens! The Missing Link Between Single-Cell Organisms & Human Cells Named For the Old Norse Deity
Since the dawn of human history, we have always wondered how we got here. What processes took place that brought us from ...
Loading Comments...