Nearly three-quarters of Welsh adults say that being close to nature improves their mood

According to a survey launched by the Mental Health Foundation to mark Mental Health Awareness Week

  • Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of Welsh adults say that being close to nature improves their mood
  • More than two-thirds (69 per cent) of Welsh adults said being in nature led them to experience positive emotions such as calm, wonder and joy
  • Almost half of Welsh adults (48 per cent) said being close to nature helps them cope with stress.
  • More than four in ten (44 per cent) says being close to nature makes them less worried or anxious.
  • 7 per cent of Welsh adults found it fairly or very difficult to access nature when they wanted to.
  • Over one in ten Welsh adults (12 per cent) spent up to one hour or less in nature per week

Nearly three-quarters of Welsh adults (72 per cent) said being close to nature improves their mood according to a new survey into its effects on mental health.

The survey, published by the Mental Health Foundation, who host Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May), found powerful evidence of the positive impact that engaging with nature can have on mental health.

More than two-thirds of Welsh adults (69 per cent) said that being close to nature made them feel positive emotions of such as joy, calm and wonder. Almost half of Welsh adults (48 per cent) said being close to nature helps them cope with stress. Meanwhile more than four in ten Welsh adults (44 per cent) said it made them feel less worried and anxious.

However the survey also found that there were some key barriers to people being able to access nature in the way they would like.

Many people indicated they struggled to get enough time in nature with 7 per cent of Welsh adults saying they found it fairly or very difficult to access nature when they wanted.

The survey of 1007 Welsh adults aged 18 and over was carried out on 6-8 April 2021 and was published to mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week – which this year has the theme of Nature.

The week has been hosted and run by the Mental Health Foundation for the last 21 years.

Associate Director for Wales at the Mental Health Foundation, Jenny Burns said: “Nature is 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.

“While nature won’t solve all our problems – prioritising time in nature can really help support good mental health. However the most important thing is the quality of our experience, and feeling like we connect with nature by trying to notice it’s beauty and absorb its sights, sounds and scents.

“We also need to go beyond what we individuals can do, and engage Government, local councils and others in bringing nature to the centre of all our lives.”

The survey looked at the barriers that existed to people being able to improve their mental health through access to nature.

A quarter of women in Wales (25 per cent) and over a quarter of people aged 18-24 (27 per cent) said that not feeling physically safe or safe from harm had hindered them from enjoying nature.

Over a third (36 per cent) of people said that they were not connecting or feeling a close engagement with nature often enough to help their mental health. Our survey also found that ‘in normal times’ before the pandemic 12 percent of adults spent up to one hour or less per week in nature – which is less than the two hours a week research has suggested is the amount that significantly boosts health and wellbeing.

Jenny added: “Nature is not a luxury and everyone needs to access and experience its benefits to their mental health.

“One of the biggest issues our study revealed was that many people identified safety as an issue that prevented them from accessing nature. A significant number also felt they weren’t getting the time they needed to connect with nature in a way that was helpful.

“That is why the Mental Health Foundation is recommending the newly formed Welsh Government prioritise support for the mental health benefits of nature in public policy and employ specific measurements around connection with nature as evidence of impact.

“At a local level we are asking for councils to prioritise nature by providing more opportunities to experience nature in the places where people live, study and work, increasing access to natural places where they can and making sure areas are clean and safe. We also want councils to make accessible provision of nature and natural places and more trees and planting in neighbourhoods a key part of planning.

“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.”

The Mental Health Foundation organises and hosts Mental Health Awareness Week every year. The week runs from 10 to 16 May and is now in its 21st year.

Mental Health Awareness Week is marked in different ways by organisations and individuals and is a chance to discuss mental health issues. This year the Foundation is asking people to share their stories of being in nature during the Week on social media using #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.

Notes to editors:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1007 Welsh adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6 - 8 April 2021.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Welsh adults (aged 18+).

For further information and for interview requests please contact Natalie Sadler, Communications and Marketing Manager for Wales at Mental Health Foundation  [email protected] 

We can provide a range of Foundation spokespeople and also case studies who can talk about how nature has benefitted their mental health – these include those in images attached, keen gardener Ruth who is supported through Mental Health Foundation’s Standing Together Cymru, esteemed Welsh poet and lecturer, clare e potter and Lloyd Ashley, Ospreys rugby player and mental health and wellbeing lead for the Welsh Rugby Players Association.

The Mental Health Foundation is the leading charity for everyone’s mental health. With prevention at the heart of what we do, we aim to find and address the sources of mental health problems so that people and communities can thrive.

For our top tips for getting involved in nature https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week/tips

For our UK research https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/nature/nature-research

and Wales policy papers https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/wales/campaigns/nature/nature-policy-ask

About the Mental Health Foundation 

  • Our vision is of good mental health for all.
  • The Mental Health Foundation works to prevent mental health problems.
  • We drive change towards a mentally healthy society for all, and support communities, families and individuals to lead mentally healthy lives with a particular focus on those at greatest risk.
  • www.mentalhealth.org.uk