Categories: Health&Beauty

New Review of Evidence Linking the Environment and Mental Health

The FINANCIAL — A NERC-commissioned environmental science and mental health review looks at the growing evidence of the link between environmental issues and mental health.

Mental health is governed by complex, interacting factors including:


According to UKRI, due to this complex intersectionality, there is a general move to developing a more holistic approach to managing mental health.

The review, led by researchers at the James Hutton Institute, focused on the potential contribution that environmental science can make to mental health research and innovation.

Highlighting correlations

The review found a wide range of research projects have highlighted correlations between adverse environmental factors and mental health issues. For example, a scoping review and series of workshops identified links between:

oil spills and post-traumatic stress disorder
aircraft noise and delayed reading ability in primary school children
air pollution and psychotic episodes in teenagers.
At the same time, other studies have looked at the positive effects of a healthy natural environment on humans, such as:

how natural river catchment areas and flows are crucial for cultural and societal wellbeing in India
how natural gardens can alleviate work-related stress.

Conclusions and recommendations

The report concludes that a great deal of research over the years has brought environmental science and mental health studies together. But there remain many gaps in our knowledge and a need to do more, UKRI notes.

Among the report’s specific conclusions and recommendations are:

most existing studies have come from the perspective of mental health. There is a clear opportunity to integrate environmental science and mental health research more closely, to improve understanding further

there has been a greater research focus on mental ill-health than on maintaining or improving good mental health and wellbeing. This would add important insights for decisions about our living environment

many environmental or wellbeing issues are complex, and there is a need for more research which involves multiple disciplines, whether biomedical, environmental, social, economic, or psychological

establishing causality in mental health research is challenging. Finding new ways for research to work with large data sets, including knowing where they are, linking them and sharing data, could bring major benefits

longer-term studies would help us to understand the impacts of environmental issues over time, not just after an incident, as well as causal relationships.
Connecting with nature

Caroline Culshaw, Head of Healthy Environment at the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) said:

People have really valued connecting with nature during lockdowns and there are well-documented links between nature and wellbeing, but there are still knowledge gaps in our understanding, for example, what is it about the environment that provides the benefit?

It is clear that more integrated cross-disciplinary research is needed if we are to make the right decisions, both for the health of the environment, and the health and wellbeing of the people who benefit from it.

Critical understanding of knowledge gaps

Katherine Irvine, Senior Researcher in environmental psychology and conservation behavior at the James Hutton Institute said:

The review carried out a wide-ranging scoping exercise, looked at other systematic reviews of previous research and over 200 individual studies, and ran workshops which identified 16 case studies showing advances in academic understanding of the nexus between environmental science and mental health.

Although there has been a plethora of work considering links between mental health and the environment much of this is piecemeal and focused on specific aspects of the environment or mental health.

This review has provided a critical understanding of gaps in the knowledge base to prioritise future action.

One of the promising opportunities emerging from the work is for the development of a community of practice amongst researchers, policy makers and practitioners focused on a more holistic approach to environment-mental health connections.


Since 2005

Recent Posts

Now is Not the Time for the CDC to Relax Opioid Prescription Guidelines

This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their 2022 exit disclaimer…

12 hours ago

Biden-Harris Administration Awards $5.5 Million to Rhode Island in ‘Internet for All’ Planning Grants

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that Rhode Island received…

12 hours ago

Christmas Events in Philly

Featured Events in Philly Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration Kick off the season with the Holiday…

12 hours ago

Camel Coronavirus Poses Threat To Fans At 2022 World Cup In Qatar

Up to 1.5 million visitors from all continents will be heading to Qatar to watch…

12 hours ago

Georgia Experiencing shortage of flu, strep medicine as cases rise

The FINANCIAL -- Country of Georgia is left with no medicines for children, as cases of…

1 day ago

In Georgia, health workers prepare for busy winter season amid COVID-19 and influenza surge concerns

“Does it hurt?” asks Lela Beradze kindly as she administers an influenza vaccine to a…

1 day ago