Being close to nature improves the mood of 70% of UK adults, according to a new survey published by the Mental Health Foundation, who have hosted Mental Health Awareness Week for 21 years.
The study was conducted ahead of this year’s Awareness Week, which runs until May 16, with nature as its main theme.
Research found strong evidence of the positive impact engaging with nature can have on mental health with almost two thirds of UK adults (65%) saying being close to nature made them feel positive emotions such as joy, calm and wonder.
Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation Mark Rowland said: “Nature can be a powerful ally in protecting our mental health, preventing distress and ensuring good mental wellbeing.
“During the pandemic, millions of us discovered nature’s power to relieve stress, worry, anxiety and restore us with positive emotions, such as joy.”
Almost half of UK adults said being close to nature helps them cope with stress.
Meanwhile more than four in ten UK adults said it made them feel less worried and anxious.
However, the survey also found some key barriers to people being able to access nature in the way they would like.
More than a quarter of women and a quarter of people aged 18-24 said not feeling physically safe or safe from harm had hindered them from enjoying nature.
Mr Rowland said: “While nature won’t solve all our problems – prioritising time in nature can really help support good mental health.
“We also need to go beyond what we as individuals can do, and engage Government, local councils and others in bringing nature to the centre of all our lives.”
He added: “Nature is a simple but fundamental way we can support and improve the mental health of millions of people. It’s vital we make that link and put it at the heart of how we build our society.”
This year the Foundation is asking people to share their stories of being in nature on social media using #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.