According to their research, anxiety and mood disorders have a severe impact on the economy. They estimate that these mental health issues wind up costing Europe 187.4 billion euros per year, or 197.50 billion U.S.dollars. Improving mental health would be a great asset to the economy.
The researchers conducted a survey to see if people could see things like birds, trees, or shrubs from where they live. Even in the city or the suburbs, they wanted to know if their homes had elements of nature.
They found that if you lived in an area with many birds present in the afternoon, you would be at a lower risk for stress and anxiety. They found many different species of birds in the areas, like blackbirds, robins and crows, but the species didn't matter. Just having more birds around seemed to help.
So what does this mean? According to the study, it “suggests that even low levels of key components of neighborhood nature can be associated with better mental health, providing promise for preventative health approaches.” So perhaps doctor-prescribed interactions with nature could be in order in the future.
The researchers also encourage cities and neighborhoods to take this study into consideration. “This has important implications for policy to set minimum levels of neighborhood nature,” the study said. So if you want your neighborhood to be healthier and happier, it can probably help to have as much nature in it as possible.
The researchers also make sure to point out that nature isn't a cure-all for all depression, stress and anxiety. But if you're dealing with any of these issues, getting in touch with nature could provide some relief. It just might be worth a shot.